Same Friend, Different City

And bam there we were, back on the road. Next stop: Nashville, Tennessee. We skipped downtown Nashville to meet our good friend, Jessi Foster, at her apartment near centennial park. When we arrived, Nate and I serenaded at the third story window we assumed was hers. Sure enough the wild, groovy, spitfire-renegade know as Jessi Foster appeared from her lair. A nonchalant, "What's up dudes?" was all we received as initial greeting though we were soon all hugging after we grabbed our bags. It had been too long.

Nate and I had met Jessi in 2014 during our time in AmeriCorps NCCC, a national service program that provides service works to communities across the U.S. My first memory of Jessi was in the middle of our campus parking lot. She casually was tossing a Frisbee in roller skates. Immediately, I could tell she was a cool cat with her circular sunglasses, septum piercing and straw sun hat that put it all together. After kicking it a few times in Sac-town, Nate and I wouldn't see Jessi until the next New Years in Denver. The last time I had seen her, we had spent a week in Washington D.C. with the rest of our clan, playing sports, hiking in Shenandoah, and drinking too much beer in another New Year's debacle. And though our encounters had been few and far between, Jessi was undoubtedly a dear dear friend.

After leaving Sacramento in 2014, Jessi spent a summer in a San Diego hostel, leading rooftop balcony parties and naked beach festivals. One adventure led to another as Jessi decided to work for AmeriCorps a second year, this time as part of the elite fire management team in Denver, Colorado. Jessi is the first to tell you, she was never one for working out, but grew to appreciate her fitness as her body formed to match the strenuous regiment fighting forest fires brings. For about a year in 2015/2016, Jessi tested out the East Coast, living in D.C. As anyone will tell you, Jessi's gregarious personality led her to the musicians, artists, and intellects of the Void, who she still holds close. But as great as Washington was, a scent of wanderlust led her and our friend, Caroline, out to the Grand Tetons to spend the summer climbing, cliff jumping, and sucking the marrow out of life.

So what was Jessi doing in Nashville after all these wild escapades? Continuing to kill it. As we entered the apartment, I was enticed by the electric guitars, Salvador Dali prints, and AdventureTime murals that covered the walls. Future music videos played on the television in the background. The apartment was smooth and groovy. It matched the style of the occupants. We sat around eating our freshly made steak and veggie alfredo reminiscing and catching up. Jessi had begun community college the previous Fall and was continuing to thrive through Spring semester. She had continued to hone her climbing skills, working in the climbing section at Cumberland Transit, the premier outdoor gear store in Nashville. Despite being relatively new to the climbing scene, Jessi spoke about various gear with air expertise. She had learned a tremendous amount about climbing in a very short time. (In other news, come summer, Jessi would be travelling to at least a few music festivals to capture the experience via video.)

After dinner, we meandered to Centennial Park to play volleyball with Jessi’s friend Ethan. He was a quiet fellow, covered in tats. Like myself, Ethan sported a man bun. We laughed and joked, wapping the ball back and forth over the net. Last time we played volleyball, I had definitely been better. Volleyball ended as the park lights shut off. Nate, Jessi and I parted ways from Ethan and wandered down to the Parthenon. The only logical thing to think was, “Who put this Parthenon replica here?”

Nate practiced his parkour skills on the steps and railings on the way. By the time we made it back to Jessi’s it was nearly 3am. Time flies when you’re among friends.

The following morning, we awoke at 8:30am, still relatively groggy. Late nights and long drives were beginning to catch up to Nate and I. Jessi worked in an hour. Traveling quick and light, Nate and I were neatly packed in ten minutes. We walked Jessi to Three Brothers Coffee, the hip coffee spot connected directly to Cumberland Transit. Jessi grabbed a coffee and headed to work while Nate and I took a minute to catch up on the blog. (You can never be caught up on a blog.)

An interview with Ms. Foster summed up our work for the day. What an interesting perspective on life. You can listen to the interview on the interview page.

Nate and I left Jessi to work and grabbed all the necessary ingredients for a park lunch. With our little pocket camp stove, we met Jessi for burritos, under the shade of a tree. Avocados, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and good people came together for a final meal before the road. I juggled clementines and Nate played guitar while we had our final chats.

Jessi Foster had to head back to work.. We all hugged a final time and made tentative plans for who knows when. And then she walked off, cool hat, light shell, and wild hair all still intact. I felt a little twinge in my heart not knowing when our paths would cross again, though I know they will. Nate and I looked at each other, knowing that it was once again time to wander.

Goodbyes never get easier. We just get more used to them.

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