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Girlhood Gone: Notes from the New Nashville

Susannah Felts | Longreads | September 2016 | 18 minutes (4,439 words)

At 18, I knew only that I wanted out.

Out of Nashville, Tennessee, out of the whole Southeast. Free from region. If you’d asked, I could have told you why, but I didn’t yet know how deep a print the South had left on me, only the urge to reject its further touch.

* * *

Back then, the Nashville I knew was defined mainly by the limited spheres of a middle-class adolescence: home, school, and a 20-mile stretch of I-40 that I drove many hundreds if not thousands of times, back and forth, east and west, repeat. My family lived on one side of the city, my friends and classmates on the other, hitched together by a private school that sat roughly in between.

To a lesser degree I knew my hometown to be a place defined by country music and Christianity, home of the Grand Ole Opry and Buckle of the Bible Belt. This identity seemed distinct but remote: I did not listen to country, did not go to church. Music City? To a kid who was rock-n-roll crazy pretty much from birth, the nickname seemed almost a cruel joke. This was not my Music City. Read more…