Talk Cities to Me

We met in East Nashville. It’s the part of the city where all the trendy, hipster people hang out, or so people tell me. It was a hot, humid, clear night in July. The bar was dim with loud music, where you felt like the thumping of the bass was inside your chest making your body shake. We stepped outside with our drinks in hand, precipitation dripping from them instantly as the hot air hit the cold glass. We bonded over traveling, American nuances that we didn’t quite understand and the desire to live somewhere other than the country we were born. The conversation flowed easily as we moved around the bar into different rooms, different chairs and eventually to a different bar. I started teaching him words in Spanish and laughing at phrases that didn’t translate well. We were told the bar was closing, so we left our drinks and carried our conversation to the next place, laughing as the next venue we walked into had a confederate flag staring us in the face. We joked too loudly about it and then shushed ourselves, fearful of being kicked out for offending someone with our distaste of the symbol. We closed down this place too and agreed that American bars close too early. We needed to meet up in another city, in another country, where bars stay open past 3am.

My friends asked me why I went out with him at all, knowing that he wasn’t from here. I said that’s why I was attracted to him. He was a stranger in a new city and that was a feeling I knew all too well. Maybe we got along so well because I could relate. Maybe it was the way we laughed at each other’s foreign accents. Maybe it was because of something different altogether. I have always fallen for men who are from other places.

I met another guy a year later, from another city, another country. We went out with a group of people on a Tuesday night in Nashville. In a crowded and dark bar on Broadway with a band playing country music, we were in our own world, sharing stories about our favorite cities in England. He told me how much I would love Cuba, and I told him how much he would love Peru. We talked about Italy and Ireland and how we like our tea. He said I didn’t seem American, that I was an anomaly in Nashville. He was confused about why I acted different, why I reminded him of home across the pond but was different than anyone there at the same time. I said I would take that compliment.

He left too. Again my friends reminded me that I should focus on dating men who lived in this city. I reassured them that I wouldn’t catch feelings. I just enjoyed the conversations. I liked spending my evening talking with someone about places I’ve never been and swapping our best travel stories. I’ve fallen in love with Melbourne, London, Stockholm, San Francisco and more just from talking to these men.

Sometimes, in the moment, I got lost dreaming about what could be. What city would we end up in together? What languages would we speak? What new places would we explore? Then my friend Logan’s words sound in my head, “These men can’t make us truly happy, though. They’re fun, but moving to new cities alone is better.”

I fall in love with new places on these dates with men who don’t live here. I listen to their stories about the pub across the street they frequent every week, their favorite place to get a late night kabob on a drunken night, the traffic in London and the best places to go dancing. I have left pieces of my heart all over the world in cities I’ve been to and in ones I haven’t been to. I’m still not sure if I’m falling for them or the city they live in.