I'm sitting in Nashville airport waiting for my flight to the big apple. It's like airports pretty much everywhere, except there's more than the usual number of people with guitars on their backs. And in the process of ordering my venti Starbucks shaken tea (I have to do something to balance out the amazing food), I heard something I've gotten a lot in the past few days: "I like your accent".
To my ears, I sound like Olivia Newton John in Grease: painfully, broadly, nasally Australian, while everyone else is smooth and southern, owning every stereotype you could care to name, because this is the place to do it. BUT it does have the advantage of making me sound different, so people talk to me. Spontaneously. Where'r you from? Haha! My unintentional lure works!
And wow, have they been interesting folk. Like Tony, a trucker I met at a truck stop (he helped explain the fifteen varieties of peanut butter snack in the vending machine), who has seen all the back roads of America, and whose brother runs a NY foodie magazine. And Doris, who showed me the Wightman Chapel on the Scarritt Bennett grounds in Nashville, where Dr King Jr spoke in 1957, and who sang (most beautifully) to demonstrate the chapel's acoustics. She also set me up with lunch in the dining hall. Wonderfully generous. And Damien, a USAF pilot who flies fighter jets and who I just met in Starbucks. I mean, wow. This is the thing that I love most about travel (after the travelling itself) … it makes the world so much bigger. More possible. And yet smaller and more understandable.
Of course, I don't mind the food either. I didn't mention this yesterday, but on my way through Memphis, I stopped at The Bar-B-Q Shop for lunch (after a little white-knuckle interstate off-ramp negotiation). I think I saw it on the food channel a few months back. OMG, the ribs, and the hospitality. Delicious in a way I can't explain, and I didn't need dinner. I probably don't need to eat ever again. Go there if you're ever in Memphis.
Tomorrow I'll be in New York City for the final two days of my trip, so it's goodbye to the South. Thanks for having me. It's been grand.