In a pleasant departure from weekly FaceTime dates, I closed out summer by visiting Mimi, one of my best friends from Israel, in Nashville. If I were half the tourist that I (sometimes) wish I was, this post would be stacked with detailed descriptions of salty/spicy/sticky BBQ meals, a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and wild evenings of live music. Alas, I am ashamed (though not entirely disappointed) to say that I experienced none of these southern trademarks. Instead, Mimi and I poked around Vanderbilt and the city and lounged at her apartment…while talking endlessly about “The Jewish Book of Why”, minimalism, water filtration, and which IKEA shoe rack to buy for her entryway. (Is this what all long-distance best friends do when they visit each other? Please let me know.)
Putting mundane conversations aside, though, I’d like to start by saying that Tennessee was immediately and indubitably FREAKING gorgeous. I had never been to that part of the country, and the airport Lyft ride to Mimi and her boyfriend Cody’s apartment had me smitten: rolling hills, expansive skies, scattered clouds, renovated brick houses, bleached white steeples, and more greenery than my drought-stricken Californian eyes had seen in years. Before even saying hello, my first words to Mimi were, “Wow, it’s surprisingly beautiful here!” (In retrospect, *palm to the face*…I need to get off my high Californian horse more often.)
We spent our first evening catching up while sharing an eggplant doused in tahini with mismatched silverware and steak knives (apparently Vanderbilt Jewish Studies masters students don’t have time to find butter knives for their kitchens). The following morning I accompanied Mimi to her “Social Movements in Modern Jewish Life” course at Vanderbilt. We discussed the intricacies of European antisemitism and class structure, reviewed different forms of Zionism, and explored the privatization of kibbutzim throughout Israeli history. While these topics would bore 99% of people, they fascinated me, and I thoroughly enjoyed nerding out with Mimi, the expert herself!
We rounded out the day with a heated yoga class at a house-turned-studio before driving to Nashville’s factory district to visit one of our favorite clothing brands, Elizabeth Suzann. (Sidenote: Mimi and I have become obsessed with slow fashion, radical transparency, and thoughtful consumption over the past two years…Elizabeth Suzann dominates all three). It was an ABSOLUTE DREAM to meet their employees, tour their workspace, and learn more about their women-owned business.
The rest of the weekend we spent meeting up with friends, grocery shopping, visiting the flea market, having ridiculously long conversations about hemming pants and SquattyPottys, and of course, EATING. While BBQ was not on the menu (Mimi is vegan, and I’m…well…difficult), an array of artsy-fartsy farm-to-table restaurants were. We spent one evening at “Little Octopus,” an Instagram-worthy-interior-decorated restaurant downtown, enjoying coconut-lime ceviche, trumpet mushrooms with tofu sauce, waxed black beans, koji chicken, and wagyu strip steak (an odd, yet absolutely delicious combination). Another day we tested out Eio & the Hive, where I ordered a salmon-kale caesar salad made with almond butter, but forwent the CBD-infused juices and gluten-dairy-nut-free-rabbit-food desserts. Ugh, sometimes I disgust myself with how much I enjoy it all.
After a weekend well spent (and a tummy well fed), Mimi drove me to the airport in the pouring rain Monday morning, and I headed home to start my “cherry on top” of a fifth year at Davis…There is little more to say besides a big todah rabah to Mimi and Cody (for feeding me and letting me sleep at the end of their bed like a dog for four nights) and that short, domestic trips are rad. Nothing beats seeing the people that you adore in their element…so, when in doubt, #buytheflight.
P.S. I promise to eat some darn BBQ next time.