This time last year we had driven to Nashville for the first time. Before we arrived, we had made a pit-stop in a Walmart parking lot so Catherine could have a work meeting and I, an interview that was scheduled with OPEN TO HOPE, an organization that supports grief workers. I saw in the back of my Kia Soul, which was on the tow dolly behind the RV while I was being interviewed about our journey and my blog, losingyourparents.org. (You can listen to that interview, here.)

I remember thinking it was way smaller than I had imagined. Lots of neon and country music playing out of every nook and cranny. They even had large boxes on the corner that played Johnny Cash.

Catherine had a note in her phone from watching the show HEAT SEEKERS many moons before to “try the bloody mary of doom @ Mad Donnas”. So after a hard work day in the RV, we went there for dinner. Upon walking in, I heard music playing upstairs and inquired to the hostess. “Oh, that’s Drag BINGO.” I was like OMG how did we stumble upon the only gay bar in Nashville by “accident”??! And up we went.

Catherine had asked the bartender upon arrival for the BLOODY MARY OF DOOM and it was if the record player stopped abruptly like out of a movie because everyone sitting at the bar AND the bar tender, as if we were in the wild west or something, stopped what they were doing to take a wide-eyed stair at Cat. “Are you sure you want to try that??” The vodka they used for the bloody mary of doom is infused with ghost peppers, one of the, if not THE hottest pepper on the planet. She had one tiny swig from a shot glass he gave her to “try”. Everyone sat eagerly, waiting for her head to spin. She sat quietly, and with a slow out breath she ordered a different drink.

It was here we played bingo, hosted by an amazing drag queen named Paige Turner and WON for the first time ever- TWICE! I won a Sofia Vengara poster, which hung on our RV bedroom door f or the remainder of the trip (and also stood as a reminder that we were warrior women), and some other small items.

The next day, we learned was the Country Music Awards! How cool to be in Nashville on this special day for country music. I don’t even listen to country music really, but was excited to learn about this. Catherine and I made reservations that the #1 restaurant on trip adviser at the time, ETCH. We ate right next to the building where the CMAs were happening. After dinner, we watched all the people dressed up in glitter and cowboy boots waltz in to their annual tradition with pride. I snapped a shot of someone from the red carpet I had no idea who it was, but many people outside were very excited to see this person.

The next day, we visited the Johnny Cash museum. Mr. Cash donated a lot of his things to this museum. There were personal notes, including one he had written to his wife after her funeral and a note about the cups giving to him by Folsom Prison.

All in all, Nashville was a positive experience for the memory bank.