K. S. Anthony
2004 by K. S. Anthony
The Union Station on Broadway around 2004.
When I arrived in Nashville, spring had not yet come and the trees still reached towards the gray skies with leafless branches the color of ash. I was glad to be out of Chicago, where I had run a twenty minute sprint through the sweltering heat of O'Hare to change planes, surrounded by the echo of the sharp, raw Illinois accents that stabbed at me through tinny speakers and dead-eyed businessmen engrossed in loud conversation with each other. The plane waiting for us at the gate was tiny--a Canadair jet--but it meant a brisk walk through the cold air onto the tarmac and as I ascended the steps and ducked into the cabin of the aircraft, I silently thanked God that I would not be traveling back through the flatlands of Chicago. As we lifted off from the runway, laced with dirty snow, I watched the white-dusted ground disappear beneath me and felt my soul climbing away.
As we passed over Kentucky, I immediately saw the change in landscape. Gone was the panorama of middle America cut by highways into symmetrical squares and lots and in its place rolled soft country hills and dales, with winding rivers snaking through the gentle, silver tan of sleeping winter trees. The forests beneath me were just beginning to show signs of waking from their timeless slumber in wet, green leaves and I longed to feel the sod of that rich, cold soil beneath my feet and to tread on the hallowed ground where men had fallen in joyless war; where heroes had been born, where the earth still possessed a soul of its own and the people who lived on it and by grace, from its providence, were filled with that same soul. There is something humbling about the country, something that stirs the spirit to awe and wonder. I grew up in the country and never appreciated what that meant, what it meant to be from a place where you put people before profit and friends and family first, what it means to respect the land and the water, until I moved across the ocean and landed in San Francisco which lately I had come to refer to as "not unlike Hell, except with more people." On the terrain below us, I saw no such Hell. I saw only a land that sang to me in green fields and smoke colored trees; a place not unlike where I grew up. If God is to be found everywhere, I suspect His feet are firmly planted in the South.
I walked from my plane out into a place I had never been before, exhilarated by the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. No one knew me here. There was no support network for me, no safety net to catch me. The familiar feeling of walking towards the unknown filled me with the rare joy of the man who knows that freedom, real freedom, lies in taking the reins of his restless nature and following his heart. My heart, for whatever reasons, had led me to Tennessee. I recalled the lines of Robert Service's poem The Call of the Wild...
...Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it, Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost? Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it; Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost....
The Nashville airport was quiet and calm and I quickly
found a cab driver to take me to my hotel . As we drove down the strangely
serene highway, I stared at the ageless slates of granite and limestone
and understood why "Rocky Top" was one of Tennessee's five official state
I finally arrived at my hotel on the outskirts of downtown. In the dimming afternoon, I could see the skyline of the city, though it did not feel like the city I had spent the last 11 years in. It did not seem like a city at all. It had warmth and a pulse beat far different from Chicago's, from San Francisco's. Beneath its facade was something organic, something human. It had a soul, it had a history, and it had a life. And I felt it beating in time with mine.
I dumped my bags onto my bed and, eager to feel the Southern
earth beneath my feet, set out towards downtown Nashville, with the cold
air smelling cleaner than any I had breathed in a long time.
The downtown now. The L and C Tower (center) was the tallest
building in 2004 and most of the others were yet to be built..
Contact K. S. Anthony
(Messages are forwarded by The
So, when you write to an author, please type his/her name
in the subject line of the message.)
Story List And Biography For K. S. Anthony