Hey y’all, Meg here!

Drive’s favorite Nashville copywriter by day and active literary citizen (poet) by night. I’m here to let y’all in on some of the everyday magic that Nashville has to offer, to give y’all a glimpse to what it feels like to live like a local. I’ve dipped in and out of this city for the past ten years (or so) and have witnessed first hand the massive changes that’ve taken place here. I know what you’re thinking…Meg, we all know Nashville’s changed, is changing, will change more, but to sit and look at its massive and seemingly instant progress long enough is truly mind-blowing if you saw it before the boom. Not quite as overwhelming or terrifying as Nietzsche’s abyss obviously, but I think you get the picture.

Now, we all know Nashville is an incredible city; people love it here, I love it here. When you go out of state and tell folks you live in Nashville the words you seem to immediately hear the most from the conversation are, “I love Nashville!”…And it’s easy to see why. With an internationally known music scene, thriving local shops, eats making a national name for themselves (hot chicken, anyone?), and breathtaking natural beauty just a quick trip down the road, there are plenty of reasons this city has seen a surge in population in recent years. It’s easy to see why this old girl moved back.

But, you see, there’s a secret about Nashville a lot of folks who don’t live here might not realize: it’s busy.

Big city busy. B-U-S-Y, busy.

Lemme tell y’all, for a Southern city, we sure do have hustle. Music crooning from every corner, film crews crowding the sidewalk, not to mention new hip bars constantly popping up… It gets a little hard to keep up! In the past few years, I’ve lived in big Southwestern and Midwestern cities, I’ve hopped around. But I’ll be damned, not one of those cities compares to how fast-paced Nashville seems to be these days. It’s exciting, yes, but if you don’t navigate the city appropriately, it can be pretty overwhelming.

I’ll let y’all in on a little secret, though; the real trick to keeping up in this city is making your time matter. This means spending it more deliberately and less frivolously than you perhaps have before. Something that can be very, very hard to do.

One of the ways I try and make my time matter most is a little thing I like to call,”The Houdini.” It’s a close sister/cousin to an Irish goodbye, but less awkward and anxiety fueled. The act of The Houdini can be described in a simple statement-now you see me, now you don’t.

Granted, if I let y’all in on the secret to my success, you gotta promise not to tell anyone. After all, I have a reputation to keep. The trick to the trick is simple: all you have to do is simply-drop in-that’s it. Just show up, be present, enjoy yourself, and leave. It’s as easy as that. Being present and deliberate automatically sweetens your life’s well-being. It’s the reason you leave a situation and go,”phew, that was nice.”

Below is a list of my top 4 places to drop in and enjoy yourself. To pull a Houdini and just, be. I’m only giving you 4, because they’re all fairly achievable if there’s not too many choices, and believe me, you go to any of these bad boys and you won’t be disappointed:

4) Sunflower Cafe

I like to escape the city on Sundays. I’ll drive out to Radnor Lake and take a nice long walk, or get lost in the woods somewhere up north. The thing is, after exploring and running around in nature all day, I am left feeling absolutely starved by the time I get back to town. This is where Sunflower Caf waltzes into my life. Not only do they have THE BEST buffalo tempeh in town, but all their food is vegan, gluten-free, and allergy friendly. This means I can come in, stuff my face, and my body is still healthy and happy from the day’s activities. Not to mention, their staff is super friendly and accommodating. You feel like family from the minute you walk in the door. I like to sit on their patio, and the best part is it’s year round! Heated in the winter and breezy in the summer. Trust me when I say, you don’t have to be vegan to love eating here.

3) Edgefield Sports Bar & Grill

Edgefield Sports Bar & Grill

I’m gonna leave this one pretty open, because let’s face it, to fall in love with a bar is pretty experiential and subjective, but I will say a few things about this Eastside dive bar that I’ve grown to know and love. They have great food, pour stout cocktails, and they have one hell of a jukebox. I like Edgefield because regardless of what time I turn up there, I never feel pressured in any way to stay, which is what (at the end of the day) makes me want to stick around longer. They’ve got games, darts, pool, and a light smoky-haze in the air that isn’t strong enough to make you choke. All in all, if you’re looking for a place to be a fly on the wall and knock a few back, Edgefield is the spot you’ve been searching for.

2) The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

I bought a membership to the Frist shortly after I moved to town for good. I did this for two reasons. The first reason: ART IS REALLY IMPORTANT, DUH. The second’ I can now visit anytime I like…and bring a friend with me (for free). One of my favorite things to do on my weekends (and sometimes even on my lunch break) is pop over to the Frist for a quick walk around. Now, if you’re visiting from out of town, by all means, take the entire afternoon, walk slowly, grok all you can out of the entire experience, the various exhibits. But for members and frequenters such as myself, it’s easy to drop in, check out the newest exhibit in 30 minutes or less, and be on my way. This year they’ve scheduled a huge and exciting lineup coming to show at the museum, so be sure to check it out.

1) The Nashville Public Library

I would probably get my poet’s card revoked (and rest assured, we actually DO have official cards) if I didn’t list this last one as my number one favorite in town. And why wouldn’t I? There’s something about a library that really fills me with possibility, with hope. It’s more than astonishment, it’s awe. An entire building dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, to an escape into language and story and imagination-honestly, it all makes me swoon a little. And we’re incredibly lucky to have such a stunning downtown branch here in Nashville. From the marble floors of the entranceway to the study room’s barrel-vaulted ceiling, the architecture in this branch is breathtaking. The entire space houses an academic, but welcoming tone; where learning not only feels possible, it feels easy, it feels wanted. If you haven’t gotten your free NPL card, head to their Facebook page and sign up today! Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.