I have been staying with a mutual friend, who is also a devoted Catholic young professional, and her hospitality has made a world of difference in helping me experience a smoother transition as I look for my own permanent apartment.
On my very first full day in Nashville, though, she had to work the whole day, and I was left alone in my little bedroom, surrounded by stuffed suitcases -- my life in boxes. My family and friends and everything familiar and dear to me far, far away. It was one of the most frightening, lonely days I have experienced. Suddenly everything became really real to me. Virtually no one knew me here, I knew virtually no one.
That feeling is enough to disorient you enough that you feel like you are lost in a vast, terrifying sea of unfamiliarity. I didn't know what to do, or how I could possibly begin to feel oriented.
I mean, at least when you start at college, you can rely on orientation programs to get acclimated and transition. There is no orientation program for moving to a new city.
I considered staying in the apartment and organizing my things a bit in my temporary abode, but something inside me told me that probably wasn't the best idea to spend the morning inside alone pondering my plight.
I knew what I needed was to find the things I loved doing; to orient myself by finding the things that brought me joy; the places where I most felt at home.
So, first things first, I embarked on a mission to find a cute coffee shop that served good breakfast fare. Thanks to Google I discovered the "The Ugly Mug", a coffeeshop in an up-and-coming area of Nashville known as "12South" which makes delicious breakfast sandwiches and features an array of creative espresso options. With a quaint interior buzzing with students and offering organic options and even Stevia for coffee sweetener, it definitely hit the spot.
Next, I went for a little stroll around the neighborhood to admire the pretty houses and the charming architecture of this historic part of town. If only I could afford to live there!
Then I went on and found the large Nashville Farmers Market, which still had an impressive number of vendors, considering that it was mid-November. I bought an array of beautiful produce, and enjoyed my exchanges with the Southern-accented farm vendors. It was good to be somewhere that I could experience the joy of buying fresh fruits and veggies; something I always enjoyed in more familiar places.
I also was able to stop at the Nashville Trader Joes, (TJ's was a very beloved spot in DC), which certainly helped me feel at home, to get much needed grocery items. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Nashville Trader Joes is probably the biggest TJ's that I have been to yet. How exciting.
As I can home from my day of exploration, I felt a little better. Somehow finding the places I loved helped things feel a little less discombobulated, and left me feeling a little more as if "I could like living here."
And so the past week and a half has rolled along, sometimes gracefully, sometimes shakily.
Much time I have spent exploring new places, finding new favorite spots, meeting new people and trying to carve out a new life here. But that's another story for another day.