A Punch to the Gut


I should be sleeping right now. This is my week of recovery and, truth be told, I have not been getting enough sleep. But I received a gut punch in the last 24 hours that will not let me sleep until I get this off my chest. Consider yourselves my therapists.

We moved here three years ago and immediately formed what I refer to as the expat cohort, friends that moved to Nashville around the same time and, just like us, were looking for friends. In many ways, this cohort has kept me sane in the smaller opportunity ecosystem of Nashville. They are all intelligent, caring, adventurous souls that share the same wide horizons that I do, giving me countless hours of discourse on interesting ideas that keep my brain from collapsing.

I just found out that two of them are leaving Nashville this summer. One of them, a creative director pulled here from LA and NY to help turn around a local agency, was not able to find a career here that sustained his interest and talent in creative marketing and advertising so will now be moving to Portland for a dream job as a managing director for a large agency.

Another one has been my fellow alt-energy and energy conservation partner in crime, helping me to exercise on a regular basis that passion in my life. He and his family will be returning to Canada, where family and stability will help him manage the variability of an adventurous career.

These departures are reminding me of when half of our close friends in the Bay Area moved away in the span of three months. We felt deserted and defeated, thinking that we had figured out how to have community and stability in Silicon Valley only to have the rug pulled out from under us. That is what drove us, eventually, to Nashville. We longed to have the stability of family to anchor my adventurous career and invest in lifelong friendships as Evie grows up. So we became part of the problem, adding to the transient nature of Northern California.

Both of these friends are going to where they are hoping to find more stability for themselves and their family, so I am happy and supportive of these decisions. But right now I hate Nashville. I hate the smallness of ideas that permeates the culture. I hate the mediocre companies that are happy with doing the same thing as last year, just 10% better. I hate these things because they stunt careers of people like my friends, and most importantly, I hate these things because they are stunting my career.

But I can not hate Nashville. In a twist that the writers of the TV show Nashville couldn’t dream up, I’ve had several meetings and introductions today that give me hope. Hope that Nashville does have broader horizons than I think. Hope that there are people here that don’t want to just talk about football and fishing. Hope that there is an opportunity here that engages my talents and passions.

Just last week, Kymberlee accepted a job as a part-time mental health therapist for University School Nashville. It is almost a perfect job for her, but it took her three years of networking to find it. It events like this that tell me things are going to be okay, that I will recover from this loss of good friends, and that we will continue to build a life full of family, friends, and adventure that will cause us to smile when we look back on this time ten years from now.

But right now it hurts.

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