I’ll be honest, in 2008, at the young age of 14, I wasn’t the nicest Californian. In fact, I was the typical resident that despised anything that wasn’t from my state. So when I heard that my best friend was moving to Tennessee, I had all the more reason to hate a place known for Elvis, country music, and its obesity rates. I spent days wondering why Kyle’s father would decide to leave the famous L.A. county for the bland, redneck state that everyone always spelled wrong.
Then, Kyle’s mother actually asked me if I wanted to go with them for two weeks in the summer. She always was courteous and thoughtful. She even offered to pay for my ticket! She obviously wanted me to go and spend a few more days with her son before he was taken and put 2,000 miles away from their old home. So, by making an offer I could not refuse, I boarded American Airlines on June 28th, 2008 and was off on my very first out-of-state trip and airplane ride.
The ride there was exactly what I thought it was going to be: noisy, boring, and exhausting. It seemed like forever till we landed at the airport at 6 PM. Once we had gotten our bags and exited the building, I was greeted with the warm, humid atmosphere that was Tennessee. Not the best first impression I’ve ever had.
I started to feel that we wouldn’t be doing much while I was in Tennessee because they had just moved in, so unpacking was expected. However, it turns out Kyle’s father was a big Patriot and decided we’d take a tour of Andrew Jackson’s own ranch! I’m not one for Andrew Jackson, but it was informative and the lush greens, fields, and trees were gorgeous.
Almost every night we either went out to a local 50’s diner or we’d make a run to a fast-food chain like Taco Bell or Dairy Queen. We’d get whatever our hearts desired. We believed we were living the high life.
One of my fondest memories there was visiting the famous Nashville area. Kyle’s parents had surprised us by taking all of us out to see Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band. At first, I wasn’t that impressed. It wasn’t until I saw who else was in the band. Tons of retro rockstars I loved like Billy Squier, Edgar Winter, Collin Hay, and Gary Wright were playing! To this day, whenever I hear ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘Lonely is the Night’, I brag about how I was there to witness those classics played live 50 feet in front of me!
When my last night in Tennessee arrived, the family let me pick where it was we were going to eat. I thought of a pretty upmarket place back in California that my dad and I went to once. I told them, and that night we had delicious Chinese cuisine at P.F. Chang’s. It was wonderful. They had ordered multiple plates of food and I got to indulge in my gluttonous tendencies. It was a good way to end my trip.
Even though Kyle and I lost touch, I learned a great deal from that trip. Just because it’s not your state, that doesn’t mean it’s terrible and hate-worthy. Stereotypes don’t tell you about the eye-opening experience you could have if you travel. Thanks to visiting Tennessee, I’m now open to traveling to all sorts of places. I now have an unquenchable thirst for new surroundings, and I owe that to a simple two-week long trip from way back in 2008.
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