The South is all sorts of crazy, as we all know (or at least as I know and tell everyone all the time). Sometimes, I’m nostalgic for the small, walk-able downtown, the proximity to the mountains, and $2 craft beers. Sometimes, I miss the comfort of knowing: I could find parking anywhere, I knew all the cool places to hang out, and I rarely got lost. Always, I miss the biscuits.
Then, sometimes I reminisce in my head and remember my last night out in Knoxville, and I marvel at how it perfectly summed up my time there. As you probably know, I got my Boston job very suddenly and also had to move very suddenly. Knowing that you have precisely one week to close up your life in a place, not to mention pack up all your necessities and shove them into a two-door car, is a little overwhelming. Luckily, I still found the time to wrangle together my friends at the last minute for one final goodbye. It was a mid-summer Wednesday night, and I decided on the Back Door Tavern for a meeting spot. It’s a hole-in-the-wall bar that was up the street from us, with cheap beers and a little patio area with games. Whenever I’ve gone there, there have always been a total of 7 people hanging out, so I figured it would be a nice place to gather a crew of people.
When we arrived, though, the patio was packed. Several picnic tables had been pushed together to accommodate a huge potluck. The smell of barbecue wafted around as a couple guys tended to an endless supply of meat on the grill. Maybe it was some sort of Wednesday night horseshoes league? We sat awkwardly in a little corner that hadn’t yet been occupied, drinking PBRs and people-watching. Finally someone in the group shouted at everyone to be quiet, and then began….a eulogy. “This was Jerry’s favorite place,” he said, “so it’s only fitting that we celebrate his life here.” Obviously, things got even more awkward for us.
After they started the procession through the food line, a woman approached us: “Aren’t y’all gonna eat?” Uh….no, we didn’t actually know anyone here. “That’s okay,” she replied. “Come grab some food! It’s what Jerry would have wanted.” So, we did what we were told. It was, without a doubt, the best banana pudding I’ve ever eaten. Jerry would’ve loved it.
Later, my friends left and Greg and I went inside for one more drink. Greg struck up a conversation with a guy wearing a Red Sox hat. “Boston?” the man said. “I just got back from there. It’s terrible. So crowded and no one’s friendly. They all drive like crazy people. And good luck if you need to make a left turn!”
Greg motioned toward me. “She’s moving there on Saturday.”
“Oh….well, I’m sure you’ll love it.”