21. Into The Great Wide Open
I’m sitting bundled on my balcony at 8:00am, watching a steady stream of people flood past my apartment complex as they participate in the Nashville marathon. It’s a warm, clear morning. Nothing but the sound of occasional runners huffing, spectators cheering them on or honking their horns, and the birds in my wooded courtyard that have too much to do right now to care. As I sit on my perch, lost in thought, I feel detached from the festivities as well.
C will be moving to Lausanne, Switzerland. It's all for sure now. I'll be following him a little later in the year.
This reality leaves me feeling weak; my breathing shallow. I’ll now be the first person in my American family line to ever reside overseas. In Switzerland, no less. That’s quite a long way from my Texan upbringing. Our kids, if we’re blessed to have them, will be Swiss-born. Beyond it all though, past any beautiful picture of the Dolomites or a bubbling cauldron of fondue, despite any surety that I will be happy there, and even if I’m able to achieve the astronomical dreams I want for my life while living happily in a beautiful country with my future husband: who am I If I’m not living in America?
All of a sudden, I feel the existential crisis that must wash over all born-and-raised Americans (especially southerners, and especially Texans) when faced with a crossroads like this. I am, obviously, going to move to Switzerland—but I didn’t know how long it would take. Now, after less than a week away from C, I’m trying to Macgyver a move within the calendar year. I’ll sell nearly all I own: my car, my furniture, and my wedding dress I bought two years ago that doesn’t fit me anymore. I must leave behind my plants, my great grandma’s fragile wooden hutch, and the apartment I waited so long to have. C assured me that on the apartment front, he’d find somewhere just as good, if not better. I have every reason to believe he’ll deliver on that promise, if the pictures of Lausanne on Google Earth are any indication. Sharon doesn’t know yet, but day one I’ll be lobbying her to move over there, and with any luck, work for me. My wine ladies will surely visit me, at Deb's behest.
I had two tunings yesterday. The first was for the Nashville Repertory Theater, in preparation for their upcoming production of Avenue Q. The piano was pretty banged up; it was on rollers and had been bumpily carted around the building for months. The bench was perched precariously on two narrow wooden shoeboxes so that it matched the height of the piano. I’m positive this setup will result in at least one hard face plant into the keyboard this season.
When I arrived at the theater, I walked into the main office to meet my contact. Immediately I saw a Lone Star flag hanging on a dowel, used as a partition between someone’s cubicle and the rest of the common area. I walked over to it instinctively, given my current headspace, and I touched it. Just then, a tall woman who I’d never seen before, but was somehow still familiar to me, walked in with a quizzical look on her face.
“I-I’m from Texas too.” I stammered out.
Her look changed to elation. “OH! Where from??” She exclaimed excitedly. “I’m from Austin.”
“Dallas, closer up by Denton.”
“I have been anglin’ these Tennessee people to get a Whataburger up here for the LONGEST time.” She stated, defiantly. I nodded.
“Taco bueno too, remember Taco Bueno?”
She scoffed. “Of course I remember Taco Bueno! That place is great. Closest we’ve got anything Texan is Huntsville, Alabama. Let me get you a Texas card.”
Sure enough, she produced a business card with her contact information, and written in large red, white, and blue lettering:
TEXANS IN TENNESSEE
The irony was thick in the room; I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. The meeting left me with an even more opaque impression of my soon-to-be Swiss/American identity, and the future that awaited me if I held on too tightly to the past. Roaming around Geneva, lamenting the absence of quality Tex-mex.
For my part, I’ve told my parents and sister, who are all supportive, and frankly seem long-prepared for this. My sister is secretly (now, not so) learning French; my mom is resigned to the 10 hour flight, a glint of electricity in her voice as she remembers her flight-attending days; and my Dad, true to form, has adopted the “go forth, and adventure on” mentality concerning all things moving to Europe. I love them all.
Cheyenne (from my band, FM) was immediately excited and optimistic, coming up with ways to tour overseas right out of the gate. It instantly made me feel like I wasn’t giving up all the progress we’d made if I moved. We’d still be a band.
Lastly, on my end, I’ve convened with my notebook and my good pen to hash out detailed game plans for how to accomplish everything; in order to determine exactly when I’ve crossed the threshold and can move without sacrificing my dreams.
The crowd below is thinning out now, the runners attacking at a more leisurely speed. I hear American accents wafting up through the trees; the harsh, sharp edges of each word, biting with a confidence I’ve known since the day I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in the same hospital where my mother was born 23 years prior.
Maybe it’ll all work out. Maybe the next bohemian musical paradise will be located in the country where Toblerones are manufactured and cultures actively collide. Maybe I’ll get everything I’ve ever wanted: fame, fortune, family, and freedom of location.
I’ll keep these belly laughs that swirl in the air this morning, the guttural calls of my homeland, in a file folder deep within the part of my brain connected to my heart. I am an American. I am a Texan. And someday very soon, the townspeople of Lausanne, Switzerland will hear the low crunch of cowboy boots along their cobblestone streets.