Running in Nashville
On Southern Hospitality, that wagon train of disenfranchised millennials who continue to flee for freer and more familiar pastures, and wondering if it's time to join them.
It was one of those late April morning runs where the hollowed-out, big city cynic expects nothing but stone faces and sunken glances, where every “mornin’” and pursed-lip smile is greeted with nothing but silence in return. You may have not heard it back from the mouths of your neighbour, nor from your fellow joggers in the park. Even the preachers and schoolteachers can hit you with the thousand-yard stare.
“Mornin’,” they never say back, only this time, I was working my way along the Natchez Trace, traversing through Tennessee hollers where musket balls still sleep soundly inside Oak trees, and everyone was saying it back.
“Nice day, ain’t she?”
Had my post-concussion syndrome returned, or, to borrow from the Kokanee groper himself, was I experiencing my encounter with reality differently?
It was my fourth or fifth mile, on my fourth or fifth day, and I realized that this had happened four or five times before. I felt tired, clean, and pleased at that moment to not be so alone around people; pleased with everything, really.
It would storm. It wouldn’t last.
A train horn blew, and I wondered what time it had gotten to be. Had I missed the start of my campaign call? Had that silly little censorship bill passed, that would come for all that Canadians see and hear online? Was I still being yelled at on Twitter by the ‘Zero Covid’ crowd over the right to keep and bear face?
I stayed in a park gazebo until the rain passed. Springtime in Nashville means the smell of honeysuckle is so strong, it manages to pierce through even the most fragrant of spring rains.
Had you passed by these morning runs as a motorist with volunteer state plates, you may have wondered why I smiled and waved at the cars drifting into the middle of the road as I approached them on the shoulder. Perhaps it was because they also waved back.
Back home, where the social contract has been broken, where home ownership is now a fever dream, the parks and paths lay strewn with refuse, needles, and the neighbourhood violent schizophrenic on his twelfth round of bail, to move through the west end of Toronto has become an experiment in life as an NPC.
On the rarest of occasions, our millions of main characters may pay you some mind. But only on the rarest of occasions.
I crossed a trail next to a farm as I worked my way back to my country-musician-for-a-sister’s home, and passed a house adorned in not one, not two, but three Trump 2024 flags.
Even homes with second amendment stickers may toss you a smile and a wave. Perhaps it’s because they know, that you know, that they have nothing to hide. (And if you’re smart, neither do you.)
My sister and her fiance aren’t the types to talk about culture war nonsense, or the price of things over cocktails. Life is lived in person, or up on stage. The internet is the place where people go to find their music, not where one should tread to find The Right Opinion.
I reach my temporary home and find my legs can barely summit the back steps. I sit down in the sun of the parking bay, where the day before we fired crossbows at a target inside the garage, and turn off the ‘do not disturb’ setting on my phone.
There are things to be mad about, Tweets and Facebook posts to launch into the atmosphere, and email blasts to shotgun-spray across the Great White North.
We really mean it this time, your response to Issue X will make all the difference. If you’re presently able, click to chip in $10, $20, or $200,000.