Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Close Call

Second-prize winner in the Tennessee True Stories Essay Contest

Metal buckets evoke a feeling in me that’s hard to shake. Whenever I see one, a memory comes rushing back.

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Grasshopper

First-prize winner in the Tennessee True Stories Essay Contest

James was the only person I’d talked to in the first week of moving to Nashville, outside of my husband and the local coffee shop guy. We would be spending many hours together, just the two of us in this little car. I wanted him to like me.

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Some Words to the Close and Holy Darkness

A writer explores her enduring ties to a seasonal classic by Dylan Thomas

Every year, when the stresses of the holiday season begin whipping up into frenzy, I weather them by imagining that I’m roaming around the world described in the Dylan Thomas story “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”: the magic of winter, the mysteries surrounding older family members, and the odd flexes of time when normal schedules are suspended.

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Piano Lessons

When is a piano not a piano?

For years, I imagined how much fuller my life would be if I could strike up a tune at a party, if I had the secret knowledge of music that every one of my friends seemed to have acquired. I felt that something was missing, something that made me a bit inferior to everyone I knew.

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There’s No Place Like Home

On the particular joy of visiting a beloved author’s house

I am drawn to the homes of famous writers like a wayfaring pilgrim on a lifelong literary crusade. Somehow, I manage to talk my patient husband into going along for the ride. But he doesn’t really mind. He has seen what these nerdy excursions mean to me.

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Merry Christmas! You’ve got Cactus Man

Sometimes a community needs a Christmas tradition all its own

He appeared at my threshold late one night, uninvited: Cactus Man, a ceramic figure in biker regalia, planted with a suggestive succulent. What began as a gag gift from my Ultimate Frisbee teammates grew into an outrageous ritual that, for our little tribe, came to embody the Christmas spirit.

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