Nashville is my home. Sometimes that's a good thing to say, sometimes it's not- but that it is my home is something I will always hold dear to my heart. In ways that I can't really describe, it's a magical town where magical things can happen. On the flip side, it's akin to a black hole- no matter how much you try, once you're there you can't seem to find a way out; like the Roach Motel of American cities or more appropriately said by Don Henley (yes, in regards to a different place, but applicable just the same): You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
I was brought to the Nashville area in 1980 from San Diego, California, well removed from "big city life" in a 'burb called Hendersonville (otherwise known as "H-Ville"). H-Ville was the "secret" home to all the big country music stars like Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Barbara Mandrell, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ronnie Milsap and others- including my dad, Dan Seals. H-Ville is where he got his start in the country music biz after leaving pop music (he was "England Dan" of the 70's pop duo England Dan and John Ford Coley), so he spent most of his time away from the family to be on the road while we, the family, puttered around H-Ville and Nashville. This was way back when I was only 7, so my memories of the Nashville then are quite different from its current incarnation.
I've watched this town grow over the last twenty years into a place that is more than just "country music." It's still got that country feel and the people who have always been here still live up to that whole "southern hospitality" thing, but it's become something more, something... metropolitan in a way. The roads are hell, the traffic is worse, the drivers are all maniacs that probably learned how to drive on tractors, the people are often small-minded, but after a while those things tend to fade into the background. Every town in every area of the US has its quirks- Nashville not only has them, it's wrapped up in them.
There is only one place in Nashville to really "party", which is the downtown district called 2nd Avenue, but that hardly does the concept of partying justice. By 11 PM nearly everything in Nashville starts to close down. Resturants, cafe's, cigarette shops, liquor shops, malls... just about any type of business closes its doors at the stroke of 11 every night- and sometimes earlier on Sundays, but the bars and dance clubs bop along until around 3-5 AM. The night time scene in Nashville is like none other anywhere. If you're looking for something like what you'd find in New York, you won't find it in Nashville. On the whole, it's a fairly conservative place and the idea of partying is still making its break into this comparatively small town. It's still growing, and it's got a long way to go.
I've seen lots of cities in the US and I gotta tell ya, Nashville is pretty damn small to have so many people in it. It takes the average driver nearly 2 hours to drive in a circle around Dallas, TX; a run around Nashville can take about 45 minutes to an hour- depending on traffic or construction (of which there is a lot- all the time). I make this point only to illustrate how juxtaposed Nashville's "smallness" is in comparison to the big city mentality it's been fostering for about ten years now. It tries to seem like it's bigger than it actually is, but armed with a decent road map and a small amount of horse sense, a person can navigate around Nashville with ease. I-40, I-24 and I-65 all run through the heart of Nashville, right past downtown, so those three major arteries coupled with numerous offshoots, makes the town seem like it's closed in rather than exposed. Perhaps this is why it seems so impossible to leave- you're closed in on all sides by interstate highways.
One of the best things I've always liked about Nashville is that it has the full gamut of seasons, but not too much so. Winter comes briefly with snow and cold, Spring lingers for a while with rain and sunshine and green trees, Summer bears down with heat and more sunshine and dry fields of grass, and Autumn blows through with winds and multi-colored trees and Indian summers that can take your breath away. A typical night in Nashville, or in the outskirts of it, can be equally breathtaking- the blackness of space looms above with stars aplenty and seemingly translucent clouds. Harsh weather is a rarity in this town for one very simple reason: Nashville is in a basin, like sitting at the bottom of a giant bowl, the Cumberland Basin. Perhaps it's a strange bit of good luck that good weather manages to linger over Nashville for periods of time that make the heart glad.
Squirrels, blue-jays, rabits, deer and other forms of natural life usually seen in city parks litter the Nashville area like us humans are the infestation (and perhaps we are). Nashville has managed, what for its growing population, to retain its connection with nature, offering vistas of beautiful hills, forested areas, wildlife and fantastic farm land at all four corners of the town. Despite its metropolitan ideals, one can drive into Nashville and still sense that Mother Nature is still alive and kicking well in these Tennessean hills.
I have spent most of my life in Nashville. I've tried leaving a few times (Winston-Salem, NC for 6 months, Dallas, TX for 4 years, Hemmingway, SC for 6 months and Bowling Green, KY for 2 years) but every time I leave I somehow get brought back here. Over the years I've come to only one conclusion about Nashville: it's my home, for better or for worse, and ya know what? I love it here.