My Nashville weekend is over. We made it back safe and sound after spending a total of 19 hours in route and wracking up over 1300 miles on the CTS. Was it worth it, you ask? You decide.
We arrived at our hotel in Brentwood around 4 in the afternoon on Friday. This gave us some time to freshen up a bit. Patrick left his office downtown amidst a tornado alert to make the twenty minute drive to our hotel. We hadn't seen him since Christmas. He looked good and talked a mile a minute all through my birthday dinner at Mere Bulles, a fancy plantation style restaurant just a few minutes away. The best she-crab soup I've ever tasted. Everything else was just ok.
After dinner, back at the hotel, I opened my birthday presents and got caught up on all the latest news in my son's life. Great night.
Saturday, we drove to Patrick's rental house, which I had never seen. I expected it to be a dump, but it was actually nice. Since Pam had planned to cook a big Easter dinner for us all on Sunday, a grocery list had been made, and we spent the morning getting everything at the local Publix grocery store. Then we drove into downtown Nashville for a surprise 65th birthday party for Deen Entsminger at the Flying Saucer, the coolest, classiest bar in town. This was where we were to meet Patrick's girlfriend. We were a little nervous. Suppose we didn't like her? Suppose we found out that her three favorite things in the world were Kim Khardashian, hip hop and soccer? Well, it turned out that I had nothing to be worried about. Sarah was wonderful, charming, adorable and confident. Turns out that my boy is an excellent judge of character.
That evening, we attended the Great Easter Vigil at the Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal church. This is Patrick's favorite church, one that he had attended every single day for all of Easter week. He was clearly into the music, the high church formality and the ancient liturgy. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to make of it. There were parts of the service that were moving, beautifully reverent, even touching. There's something captivating about the ancient rituals, the words and phrases, identical to ones used in Easter services for countless generations of Christians through the ages. Interestingly enough, except for the infant baptism that was part of the nearly three hour service, I heard nothing that I found theologically questionable. I heard beautiful music, I heard scripture read, enough to fill a 25 page program. I heard a ten minute homily that was perfectly fine and appropriate for the occasion. Still, for three hours I never heard anything personal. It was as if everyone in robes was a symbol of something, not the thing itself. The entire service seemed devoid of emotion. There wasn't one single spontaneous moment. Literally every word spoken had first been written and inserted into the airtight program from which there was no deviation. This may just be my faith tradition blinding me from being able to fully appreciate another. But the thing is, I did enjoy parts of it, even loved parts of it. I could do without the priests singing every other sentence and honestly, I could do without all the incense.
The Sunday service was much shorter, and the lights were on, which made it seem less medieval. The music was phenomenal. I must admit that I have probably never seen a better dressed crowd. I saw more seersucker suits than I would have seen at a Matlock convention. And the hats...some of these woman would have given those British woman at the royal wedding a run for their money. The program was only 13 pages, and we actually knew one of the hymns! It was a beautiful service.
Then we all made it back to Patrick's house and Pam started working on dinner. By 6 that night it was ready. She served a honey ham that she had cooked all afternoon in a crock pot, glazed with orange marmalade, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. There was homemade Mac and cheese, green beans, a glazed walnut and pear salad with poppy seed dressing and goat cheese and a strawberry pie for dessert. Patrick and his two wonderful roommates were delighted at such a feast being placed in front of them, even more thankful for the refrigerator full of leftovers!
So...that was my weekend.
Oh yeah, I've decided not to share the details of our near death experiences as passengers in Sarah's car in downtown Nashville on Saturday night. She doesn't know me all that well yet, and I wouldn't want to give her the impression that I'm the sort of person who might take something embarrassing about her and then make a huge overblown deal out of it just to get a few laughs. Maybe later.