And so we began to plan. He asked on a Tuesday. I had plans that weekend, both Friday and Saturday. Going out the following weekend was going to be a problem because I had already planned a trip to Nashville. I felt bad. We could've gone out on a weeknight, but Jake works early shifts and it seemed like the weekend was a better choice. Behind the scenes, he was seeking out first date ideas from friends. He was planning. But the closer my Nashville trip came, the more he openly talked about the possibility of our first date taking place there.
Wouldn't it be fun if our first date was in Nashville?
Where would we go?
I wish we could hang out in Nashville.
I didn't think twice about his questions. We were talking, that was all. And so I gave him answers about my favorite places to eat and favorite things to do.
The night before my trip, we stayed up too late. I was sad at the thought of not seeing him for five days, and so I didn't let him leave at a reasonable hour, despite the fact that we both had to be up early the next day. Me, for a 12 hour drive to Nashville and him, for work. As a result, I turned off my alarm and was 30 minutes late getting on the road. I went to pick up my mom who was joining me on the trip, and we headed to Nashville.
Throughout the day, I texted Jake. I was exhausted and I wanted to see how he was faring at work. He told me that after work, he was headed to his hometown of Waxahachie to see his family and that he would likely spend the weekend there. I struggled to stay awake all day. I consumed large amounts of caffeine, and I did my best to sleep during the few hours that my mom took over driving. After hours of bad weather, tornado sirens, and speeding a little to stay ahead of the tornadoes that were threatening Western Tennessee, we pulled into Nashville around rush hour. Perfect. Just in time to park on I-65 N, which might be the most congested stretch of road ever. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, I took a picture of the city, and sent it to Jake. I got this in return.
Any girl can read this and use her brain and figure out what I was thinking. I was exhausted. I looked terrible. I had been driving all day. And with this conversation, I had committed myself to another two hours of driving. It was too soon in the relationship to be mad, though. So I sucked it up, and put on my happy face. And when I said "You owe me", I meant it.
When I finally arrived at my destination, my sweet friend Mary waited patiently as I changed clothes and made myself look presentable enough to meet Jake's friend. As we drove to Nashville, I wondered at the strangeness of it all, and I decided that Jake and I were going to have to have a little conversation about communication. I was planning the nice, but firm communication that we would exchange.
Then we arrived at the Tin Roof. Mary and I walked in, and walked up to the front where a guy caught my eye and pointed. "Julie?" he asked. Yep, I found the right guy. He said he had what I had come to pick up, and he walked over to a small cabinet that was not big enough to hold a guitar. This situation was growing more and more shady by the minute. Then I heard a familiar voice beside me. I turned to my right and looked over to see Jake standing there. In Nashville. What on earth was he doing in Nashville? Then came the confession.
Jake had never gone to work that day. At the same time that I was leaving Texas with my mother, Jake was loading up with his roommate who was traveling to Memphis to see his girlfriend. Jake rented a car in Memphis and drove to Nashville alone to take me out on our first date. He had set up a place to stay with a friend, and he clarified that he was not there to take away time from me and my friends, but that he would like to go ahead and take me on our first date while we were there. And of course, I again said yes.
I had the following day completely free. Mary was at work, and so Jake and I spent the day in the city that I love. We went by the school where I used to teach and talked to sweet friends that I hadn't seen in a few years. We had lunch with my mom and her best friend at my favorite restaurant. And then that night, we headed to Nashville for our date. We shopped at Pangaea, my favorite little store in Hillsboro Village. Then we headed to Cabana for our 8:30 dinner reservation. Thanks to a Facebook status asking for first date questions, we had hours of conversation about the most random of topics. We had tea, sweet potato biscuits with fried chicken, salmon, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Not all on the same plate, obviously. We endured the noisy birthday party at the table next to us and made up stories about the strange man with huge hair and a paisley corduroy jacket.
After dinner, I showed him the way to Love Circle, a spot in Nashville where the whole city can be seen. It was cold and wet and I had to ditch my sparkly gold heels and walk barefoot across the soggy grass. We stood there long enough for my feet to freeze and to capture a few pictures of the view. Then we headed to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon. We took a few pictures there, and then headed back to Mary's house. As we drove through the city, I took a minute to take it all in... so many things that I liked, all in one place.
The next morning Jake drove back to Texas, leaving me several days to see friends on my own. I love the city of Nashville, but I have to tell you that I liked it better with him in it. Is that cheesy? Yes. But it is true. And when Jake alerted Facebook about how it all went, he made the announcement that would certainly attract a little bit of mocking from his friends.
Driving back to Memphis, then to Texas. The date, you ask? Probably the best thing ever.
And you know what? It was.