Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Dinner Party

In January, my 21-year-old sister asked if I could introduce her to any of my friends living in San Francisco. She wants to spend her summer interning there, and thought it would be helpful to speak with people already working there. One of the introduction emails I sent was to an old friend whom I met through my college scholarship program, someone who actually hosted me at UNC during the scholarship finalist weekend in my senior year of high school. One thing this friend and I had quickly found out that we had in common was we had both lost a parent at age 11.

In the casual catching-up email conversation that proceeded from my sister's introduction, I sent that friend, Sam, a personal essay I'd recently written for Southern Foodways Alliance's print quarterly Gravy. The essay is the first piece of writing I've published about my experience with grief, and I thought Sam would appreciate it.

She liked it so much she asked permission to share it on social media, and in response she also told me about an organization called The Dinner Party. "I feel like you'd be a stellar host," she said in her email. I clicked the link.


Intrigued, I filled out the form for "joining a table," answering questions about my interests, my experience with grief, and what kind of people I most enjoy spending time with. The email I received in response told me that the Nashville "table" was at capacity and the national organizers were waiting for someone to step up to host a new group. 

"I am totally willing volunteer as a host," I wrote back. "What does that entail?"

Fast forward three months, and I'm sitting at a table with six other people, laughing and crying about the absurdity of death. And the absurdity of life. And the beauty of togetherness. Eating tacos. Drinking wine. I was in awe at the strength and courage of the people who surrounded me: a woman whose alcoholic father died during withdrawal 11 weeks ago, a man who'd lost a brother to addiction and suicide two years ago, a woman whose 30-year-old husband's heart had stopped suddenly just one year ago.

The bravery in telling those stories, the honor of listening to those stories, the responsibility of listening compassionately — that space was sacred. These weren't people I'd normally seek out as friends, whether because of difference in career paths or the six-to-fifteen-year age gaps — but I feel lucky to have met them and to have sat with them in that context. We started the night with a toast to the people missing from our lives, and we ended the night with an agreement to meet again as soon as possible. 

I moved to Nashville without knowing anyone here. I've developed friendships with a handful of people whom I plan to stay in touch with after we've parted ways — but in a year of actively investing in relationships, I haven't had a single night that comes close to the raw and genuine openness and connection I witnessed through The Dinner Party.

Here's to my mother Lisa, and here's to breaking bread with a group of people who understand.

Monday, April 24, 2017


I hadn't been to Memphis since I was a baby, so this weekend I drove the three hours to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and to see a bit of a new place. 

I walked across a pedestrian bridge to Arkansas! My first time to that state! And a great viewpoint for photos of the Memphis skyline.

one M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i
Do all cities have a street like this?
chalk art!

I was struck by all the empty warehouses near the waterfront — something you'd never see in Nashville.

The Civil Rights Museum was extremely impressive. Thorough, thoughtful, honest, and realistic without being aggressive. A really emotional experience that was at once humbling and inspiring. I wish all Americans were required to see it.

This made me cry.

This was one of my favorite parts of the museum. The portrayal of civil rights was beautifully nuanced.
fantastic dinner at Hog & Hominy

I woke up at 6am to drive back to Nashville for the March for Science. It was worth it just to see this girl with her sign.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stunning Fantasy / Serious Fun / Snail Friend

How can one city be so beautiful? Visiting always makes me want to move to San Francisco. I know I would miss my family and East Coast friends a lot, but the sheer beauty of this place would probably be worth the distance. I'm lucky to have such wonderful friends in this city, too, who are like a breath of fresh air after the stifling loneliness of my work-from-home isolation in Nashville.

snail friend <3 the highlight of my early-morning run through Land's End and Golden Gate Park 
We all deserve a healthy and safe community!

impromptu Robertson reunion at Coinbase

this tea shop comes with cats

potentially the only person I've stayed close with since high school??

this cost $14 but it's fine because look at it

It's hard for me to accept that this place is real.

two of my favorite people in the world!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cheekwood in Bloom

Realizing Cheekwood's 100,000 tulips were nearing the end of their season, Lisa and I made plans for a lovely afternoon visiting Nashville's biggest garden. Simply being in beautiful spaces is incredibly refreshing for me. These pictures are unedited, so keep in mind the flowers were even more beautiful than what you see here!

I got several compliments on my skirt while strolling through Cheekwood. Flower appreciators unite! 

It's not Cheekwood, but I'm appreciative to my home's previous residents for being skilled gardeners!