Small Talk and Nashville Snow Days

Not sure what gets photographed more in the winter in Nashville: winter photos or latte art. Photo by Justin Mabee

I got in the elevator on Tuesday for a meeting and my go-to for small talk was about the weather.

And when I handed this old lady a grocery cart at Kroger on Tuesday, she smiled at me and said “Some weather we are having!” which I assumed meant I looked cold.

Today, I sat working at our kitchen table and grumbled that I couldn’t work when I was cold, so I am writing this from right next to my heat vent.

I’ve grown more apt at small talk over the past year, knowing that I have such a disdain for it but asking people their hopes and dreams off the bat can be off-putting. So, I always start off with weather talk, waiting for the moment I can switch it to sports talk because that’s a lot easier.

In my mind, small talk is just a way to get more comfortable with someone before we can get to the real talk. But I’ve been talking to God about this weather a lot lately.

And what’s funny is this ongoing conversation about winter started as small talk with God. I complained to him that there weren’t enough daylight hours in the day for me to get my short runs in AND work during normal people hours.

I don’t think God really answered that one. Maybe that’s a good thing because it was whiny.

Then a few days later, Nashville got hit with a storm. Not so much a snow storm, so you Michigan people relax, but a lot of ice with like half an inch of snow. But whereas this would be a typical Monday morning in Michigan, in Nashville we just weren’t prepared for this much ice. We have no salt trucks, barely any snow plows and I don’t think people knew Home Depot sells snow shovels. So, this city shut down.

Schools were cancelled, offices sent out emails to work from home, and coffee shops updated their Instagrams saying they weren’t going to be open.

And it was beautiful. The adult Snow Days you think you won’t get after you graduate school- they happened. And Monday, my social media feeds were full of people showing how they were exploring outside. And the snow made me feel like I was home in Michigan a little bit.

Tuesday the weather didn’t improve and everyone got another Snow Day. And my social media feeds were full of people walking to the grocery store and documenting how bread and milk being bought out was a real thing.

It was almost as if the whole city of Nashville took a small vacation from life. The city had the same feel it does Christmas Day, where people got a few items off their to-do list, but mostly just spent time with other people and watching Netflix. (That’s how our family does Christmas anyway)

By Wednesday, Nashville got stir crazy of being stuck inside. So the snow had faded away, and so did the allure of having days to explore outside. (Or everyone finally finished all 10 seasons of Friends)

Nonetheless, in those few days, I applauded Nashville. I always thought this city was a little better at the work-life balance than other cities, and these days of winter weather advisories reminded me it may be true. Nashville wasn’t at a rush to get back to work.

As the week wore on, and I spent half of my time ice skating down my driveway to check if the Post-Office was finally going to deliver mail, I kept having talks with God about winter.

After the small talk with God about this weather, I craved an understanding for why we even have this season. My belief is that God created everything for a reason. God created oak trees to remind us to put down roots. God created the sun to provide us with Vitamin D as a natural antidepressant. God created baboons to make us laugh.

As for winter, I wonder if the early sunsets and the dark hours and the cold weather are meant for us to slow down. As a time to relax. As a time to take photos of winter and added captions around the Bible verses containing “be still”

Instead we fight against it for the most part by cramming more in those windows of sunlight time, or arriving at work when its dark out and leaving when it’s dark out. Or for me, rushing to get marathon training runs while it’s still light out. When maybe winter is a time for decreasing our work, submitting to it.

I don’t know, maybe the ongoing conversation with God about winter is him teaching me to just surrender to him. To stop pretending it’s summer by continuing to do all the work, all the workouts, all the social activities I did during the summer, and just surrender to winter and rest and maybe getting more than 6 hours of sleep.  

And then...... in typical fashion, here is a list of unrelated things I have been discussing with God and everyone else that will talk to me about something other than the weather:
  • What came first: the culture in Nashville that brought creativity or the people who are creative to bring about this culture?
  • Is it possible that we are meant to work outside of an office for half the week?
  • Are there ever any fears we are meant to always posses?
  • And the ever-going argument where I question if I put his desire for puppy in me or if he did it. 

Dad, please don't tell me to jump off a bridge.

I spent most of Saturday sobbing. Ugly sobs that make Kim Kardashians' cry face look like an edited selfie. So in typical dramatic fashion, I sent a text to my dad that said "I want to come back to Michigan. I'm tired."

So Dad called me then. He's been updated the past two weeks on how I was doing, most of which were cryptic texts that made me appear bipolar. Good days meant I sent him something funny about a puppy. Bad days meant I said "Are we sure I want to do this?"

"This" being God knows what because I really have no idea what I am doing. I told Dad on Saturday "maybe I should just get a full time job and take a break from writing. Or write after work. I'm tired."

I just kept telling my dad I was tired. Which I am. I am tired from just about everything. From figuring out certain writing projects. From side gigs. From projects that I hate. From being so reflective that I'm even sick of my own mind. 

And I waited for my dad to give me the "go ahead." If I am honest, I'm getting better at not being a people-pleaser as much, but my dad's opinion is still one I value over everything else. He is the only person who could tell me to jump off a bridge and I would. But my dad didn't give me a "go ahead." 

"No, you know what you're supposed to do. You are supposed to write," he said. 

That was that. I was waiting for someone to tell me it was okay to quit in the midst of writer's block and no direction and a quiet God. But with that, I wasn't free from this dream, and then Dad switched the conversation to why I shouldn't get a puppy.

A few days later, I received a package from my mom at my new Green Hills house. During Christmas, I was home in Michigan and Mom kept trying to buy me Alex and Ani bracelets. I kept telling her I didn’t want them because I didn’t like any of the designs, nor do I remember to wear jewelry anyway. So I opened the package from Mom and she sent two of the bracelets. I rolled my eyes, but I know she meant well, so I texted her a very genuine and grateful "Thanks mommy! You're so sweet" 

And she told me that she specifically picked out one of them that said "path of life" because she wanted me to remember I was strong and very loved. So I cried. Obviously. And told her I was wrong and that I needed that reminder, even if it was in jewelry. 

And I'm slightly crying now as I write this. 

Because two years ago I sat across from my dad on the couch in Michigan and told my dad I wanted to basically start my own business, and he didn't bat an eye before he told me that it was a great idea.

A year ago I said I wanted to (finally) move to Nashville and my mom only cried a little bit but told me through sobs she thought it was a great idea.

And four months ago, I told both of my parents I wanted to quit marketing and social media and projects I hated so I could just write. To write like I did before someone somewhere told me to be realistic and pick a major and a career that was “hire-able.” And once again, my parents didn't bat an eye.

My parents have never once doubted me even when I'm making seemingly stupid, illogical, unrealistic choices. Maybe because they don’t think they are stupid or illogical nor unrealistic? Even when I think that some days. 

I think even if I ever quit and gave up on "the dream" they would still be standing for my dream for me. 

So, thanks mom and dad. I love you guys from 600 miles away. 

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