This morning I was feeling nostalgic for the road trips we’d take in our teens. Louisville, Huntsville, Athens, or Atlanta were all within a 4 hour drive of my little town of Lewisburg, TN. My friends and I would pile into a car and drive till we found a neat looking neighborhood, then get out and walk for a few hours before heading back to the car for the night. We’d wake up sweaty and sore, then walk around for a few more hours before driving back home.
The cities all stayed the same, it was us that would change. Of course we had plenty of coffee shops, all ages shows, and heavily tattooed punk girls in Nashville, but travelling gave us plenty of chances to try on new identities for ourselves. In each new city I could pretend to be some sort of Kerouac-ian poet, well travelled and confident. But as we’d return to the same town that mystique would wear off and we’d eventually just be more locals spending their whole day in some coffee shop.
Matt was my best friend and most frequent travel companion. He’d meet me just as I was getting off from work and we’d just decide to drive somewhere. “North or south, doesn’t matter. I just need to be back by Thursday.”
I had a secret ambition to someday earn the nickname “Tennessee” during one of these frequent trips. I never told anyone, especially Matt, but I hoped that if I tried hard enough the people around would just somehow now that this was my new name. My new identity. That weird traveller from someplace other than where we were.
Matt and I walked into a house party in Louisville after being invited by a cute barista. As we entered she pointed to Matt and said “Hey everyone, this is Tennessee, he’s an artist.” then she pointed to me and said “and this is his friend”. Matt and the barista made out all night while I eventually worked my way to the back porch where I sat and read on the road while everyone partied.
I rarely have the urge to be anonymous anymore, but when I do, I use my real name.