Cars & Trucks on Lawn 8A little over two years ago I moved from Connecticut to Tennessee.  Since then, I’ve been compiling a mental list of practices and behaviors that set the North apart from the South.  One such practice that I’ve had difficulty comprehending is the desire of Tennesseans to don the family vehicle (pronounced, vee-HI-ckle) on the front lawn of their homes instead of in its rightful place, the driveway, or better yet, the garage.

Recently, I headed out to run some errands, and as I rounded the corner to exit my super-sized subdivision, I couldn’t possibly ignore the outrageous site before me.  In fact, there was no way that anyone could miss this eyesore.

Take a look at this photo above.  There, on the tiny strip of green grass that divides one neighbor’s property from the other, sits the cabin of a tractor trailer truck, or a semi as they call them here.  To add more flavor to the scene, there’s also a van parked on the same patch of lawn and a tag sale, otherwise known as a yard sale in these parts, which made me want to close my eyes, click my heels three times and repeat,  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.

As I dove into my overstuffed purse in frantic search of my point-and-shoot camera, I almost hit the mailbox of a nearby home.  But I have never seen anything quite like this before, and I needed evidence for the folks back home.

Had someone parked their big rig on their front lawn in Connecticut, rest assured there’d be a blizzard in Florida before the neighbors would allow it to remain there for very long.  They’d be on their cell phones complaining to town officials in a New York minute, and that truck would be history before nightfall. In fact, in the Northeast, or at least in Connecticut, people park in their garages, and if they don’t have one, then they park either in their driveways or on the street.  Where I come from, it’s just bad manners to park on the lawn.

But not here.  That cabin sat on that scrawny strip of lawn long after both the yard sale and the white van had vanished.  In fact, it sat there for several days.  As I passed it on my way to work each day, I wondered exactly when it would finally disappear.  I kind of felt bad for the neighbors having to endure the unsavory view each time they stepped out their front doors.

Parking on the front lawn in Tennessee is as normal to folks as flowers blooming in spring and to prove it, I decided to ditch the errands that day and instead, check out the rest of my subdivision for some interesting finds.  Within thirty minutes, here’s what I found.

LOOK! Cars & Trucks on Lawn 2Notice that there’s only ONE vehicle in the driveway, so what’s the deal with parking on the lawn?

Whooo- Weee! Look at THESE sexy babes, posing for the camera!

Cars & Trucks on Lawn 3

Cars & Trucks on Lawn 1

Cars & Trucks on Lawn 4

I’m beginning to wonder if parking on an angle is supposed to take away from the fact that the car is on the lawn.  Or is it just the Tennessean way of being classy?  Where I come from, cars parked like these usually don For Sale signs with hand-written phone numbers on them.

The homeowner in the picture below could possibly have a legitimate reason for parking on the lawn.  First, there may be four licensed people living in the house, or NOT, because hey, this IS Tennessee.  There could also be a party, but since I didn’t see anyone in the garage barbecuing, I’m going to steer away from that hypothesis.  I will applaud them however, for at least utilizing the space in the driveway before creating a parking lot on their lawn.  Nice job! Cars & Trucks on Lawn 5

Cars & Trucks on Lawn 7

If this car’s owner wanted to protect the sleek and sassy paint-job from the hot, damaging, southern sun, then maybe parking in the garage would prove much more effective than parking under a couple of  toddler trees that are barely large enough to protect it from anything.

Cars & Trucks on Lawn 6

In this picture, the car IS the front lawn.  In fact, it’s almost as big as the house!

Trust me when I tell you that there were plenty more pictures that I could’ve added to this collection, however I didn’t want to overwhelm you.  But, before I leave you with one final image, let me stand upon my soapbox just one final time and express that a lawn is something that adds beauty to your home.   Parking cars on it, in my opinion, steals away that beauty, and if your house is by chance ugly, well, a car on the front lawn does NOT make it prettier. Folks, instead of looking at something aesthetically pleasing, you’re just adding litter to your yards, not to mention that you’re lowering the property value of my home, since I’m your neighbor.

If you live in a mansion and have a front lawn the size of Disney World, then by all means, knock yourself out and park wherever the dickens you want.  If your car is a Ferrari or Lamborghini, well I’d definitely let you park it on my lawn!  But wanna-be cars like Honda Civics and Cutlass Supremes need to stay off the postage stamp-sized lawns.  In fact, use the garage for its true purpose and hide them there!

And now for the final image.  I leave you with the junk yard!

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A Truck-Stop In Nashville, TN

A Truck-Stop In Nashville, TN

During the summer of 1981, my mother, her parents, my brother, and myself packed our bags, squashed ourselves into my grandfather’s banana colored Oldsmobile, and headed cross-country to visit the relatives in Dallas.  From the very moment that we left our driveway in Connecticut, my grandfather shared this crazy idea that we ought to dine at a 76 Truck Stop sometime during our three day road-trip.  He was completely serious and quite excited about his idea.  However, it didn’t go over very well with my grandmother or my mother, and it really didn’t occur to me as to why, for I was only twelve and quite naive.

Once we arrived in Nashville, or somewhere in the vicinity of the city, his persistence prevailed, and like a kid in a candy shop, he appeared overcome by elation as he pulled the old, bobbing car into the dusty, dirt-covered parking lot of a random 76 Truck Stop.  My first impressions, as I stepped out of the car, were that it was too hot, too dirty, and too brown.  Furthermore, I had never seen so many trucks in one place at one time, and it made me feel small and insignificant.

Inside the restaurant, I felt the eyes of  too many blubbery, ugly and disgusting men gawking at me, as I accompanied my family to our table.  Suddenly, I felt terribly self-conscious.  It was then when I understood fully why my mother and my grandmother made such a fuss about my grandfather’s desire to dine here.  More than likely it because they didn’t consider a truck-stop an appropriate venue for family dining.  In fact, we were the only family there.

July 14th of this year my cousin, who doesn’t drive stick shift, my three cats, and myself stuffed ourselves into my tiny, manual, Volkswagen Jetta. We headed sixteen hours south from my beloved home-state of Connecticut to my adopted home, just two-point-seven miles outside of Nashville, Tennessee.  Of all the really cool places on Earth where I could live, I chose the one place that for twenty-eight years of my life I have associated with hot, dirty truck-stops.

Tennessee never even made it onto my official list of cool places to live, not only because of the drab images that cloud my mind at a mere mention of its name, but also because it’s landlocked, it hardly sees snow, and when it does, don’t blink or it will have already melted.  Oh, and then there are the tornados; don’t let me forget them.  If you’re not a local, I’ll bet you didn’t know that there actually exists a place called Tornado Alley.  Bet your darned toot’n snow blower there is, and I now know because I live there.  Why anyone would choose to live in a place where tornados pop up as frequently as places of worship, has me utterly baffled. After two years of preparing my dining room closet as my “safe” place more times than I care to remember, I have concluded concretely that I prefer nor’easters and hurricanes over tornados, thank you very much!

At this point in my story, you’re probably asking yourself why I chose to live here.  Well, the answer goes like this.  One day, a nice man comes along and before you know it, flying a thousand miles back-and-forth over a period of two years just to have dinner together quickly gets old.  Of course he can’t move to the Northeast because he has a kid from a previous marriage who conveniently ties him to the Volunteer State until that child becomes of legal age.  Before you know it, a job opportunity arises, a difficult life-altering decision is made, and suddenly thirty-eight years worth of junk is piled up into a moving truck.  The beautiful condo’s up for sale, just as the housing market decides to plummet, and I mean plummet, toward the depths of Hell at a velocity which exceeds the speed of light.  Then, the next day, you wake up to realize that it was not a dream, and that this strange place is your new reality.

The real kicker of this story is that this guy isn’t even from Tennessee.  Nope.  He’s from a beautiful island in the Caribbean, which boasts lush mountains, perfect palm trees, and gorgeous beaches.  And while both Tennessee and his island are hotter than a forest fire in August, and by the way, I really can’t tolerate the heat because I come from the land of snow and ice and have slept outside in -17 degree weather and liked it, I’d gladly choose the island any day over Tennessee because everyday would feel like a well-deserved, tropical vacation.

Ok, ok.  Maybe I’m being too harsh.  The truth is, since I’ve moved to Tennessee, I’ve discovered that it’s not all dirt and tractor-trailer trucks, as I previously believed.  Though on any given day at any given time, tractor-trailer trucks indeed dominate the highways down here.  And if you weren’t holy before moving here, you might become so once you’re living here, especially when your tiny Jetta is surrounded by these rapidly moving giants.  Suddenly that Geiko Insurance policy seems pointless.

Getting back to my point, Tennessee is actually a really beautiful state.  However, there are some really quirky things that I’ve observed since my move…things that I just can’t get accustomed to as a Northeasterner, like parking on the front lawn or entertaining guests in the garage for everyone passing by to see.  Where I come from, garages are where you park your cars and backyards are where you entertain guests…privately.

So, buckle-up and join me as I discover the good, the bad, and the ugly in the state which is home to the Titans, Graceland, and the Smokey Mountains.  But remember, I’m not from these parts, and my perspective may shock you.  In fact, I’m hoping it will!  Welcome aboard!

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