Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sincerely

To the Renaissance Nashville Hotel Family,

I was four years old when I walked into your hotel for the first time. The name outside read Stouffer’s and there were ashtrays in the lobby, filled with sand that had been stamped with the fancy “S” logo. My dad had come to help out, and I was privileged enough to create a home away from home inside its walls.

Mr. John Fleming was my father. A hotel manager by day and a goofy, grinning daddy by night – that’s how his closet was separated too; beautiful suits on one hand and then, on the other, hundreds of white tube socks, vacation shirts, and sweatpants that he wore on his morning trip to grab a newspaper and coffee on the weekends.

Nervous and always on my best behavior, I wanted to make him proud every chance I got to visit you all. I didn’t want to embarrass him. He loved the men and women he worked with, and I wanted to make sure that I made a good first impression, second impression, a lasting impression still to this day because that’s what he did. But now, mostly, I want to make an impression that says, “She is appreciative.”

Dad gave me so much at home. Together with my mom, they offered a life to me that so many people don’t get the opportunity to have. From the intangibles to a room full of everything I could have dreamt of, my siblings and I had it all. Now after sharing such an emotional experience together, I know how much he gave to all of you too.

At the funeral, everyone kept thanking us for sharing Dad with them. What’s amazing is I never felt like I was “sharing” him. He worked long hours, and he would occasionally travel, but he still made everyone in his life feel special. I was never gipped of time with my Dad while he was here. Instead, I gained better insight and advice from him because of the team he had built at the Renaissance – which was all of you. I must confess, though I’m terribly angry that I do feel my time was cut short with him for one reason that keeps swirling around in my head. In fact, it’s how I began the letter I wrote to him – the one I tucked under his sleeve on March 9th, 2018, hoping that he’s able to receive snail mail in heaven.

“I wasn’t done learning from you Daddy,” I printed out on paper from an old journal. I bet a lot of you feel the same way.

Dad, Mom, Nick, and Donna had already traveled and lived around the country before I was even a blip on the radar. I didn’t get to experience living in Mobile, hunkered down at the Riverview during the hurricane, or watching Dad make his mark on The Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. Instead, I was given the gift of making Nashville my hometown. I never felt like I missed out on anything that came before 1989 though, no matter how many times Nick or Donna wanted to remind me that I was late to the Fleming party. And that’s because of how Dad’s team made my family feel every time we stepped inside the lobby of the Renaissance, settled on 611 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tennessee.

The chocolate eggs and bunnies showcased near the elevators at Easter, the Kids’ CafĂ© parties that I tried really hard to be excellent at face-painting for (so many children asked me to give them a reindeer and they’d walk away with a very sad cat on their cheek instead), the renovations, the Mother’s Day brunches, there are so many of my childhood and milestone memories locked away in that hotel. I turned 21 there and had my first appletini. And most recently, my high school class and I celebrated our 10-year reunion there – with details so perfect and food so delicious.

As soon as we walked away from Austin and Bell on March 10th, 2018, I felt the need to do what I always do when I’m feeling things that I don’t quite understand. I write. That memory of those ashtrays kept coming to mind, and I knew that no matter how this letter or gobbledygook ran out on paper that I needed to get it to all of you. It’s the best way I know how to say, “Thank you.”

Thank you for being a part of my Dad’s life. Thank you for being a part of my family’s life. Thank you for being a part of my own life. But mostly, thank you for loving my father and thank you for providing a home away from home for him for the past 25 years. He wanted to get back to you. He was sad that he felt like the chance had been taken from him with the latest diagnosis but going back to work, in his words, “wasn’t being taken off the table just yet.” I need you all to know that he wanted to get back to it. He wanted to shake your hands and goof around and be your leader – if only for a little bit longer – and finish his career on his own accord.

Again, thank you for loving my father. And thank you for showing it in a way that he deserved because he deserved it all.

Sincerely and with so much love,

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

February 5th BUY IT!



February 5th is available for purchase!

Amazon

[ Barnes and Noble COMING SOON!!}
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Monday, June 18, 2018

February 5th: THE CHAPTERS

Prologue

February 5, 2016

Looking In The Mirror Was Painful

I Wore My Memories & Now They’re For Sale

Hypothetically Speaking, I’d Say Yes

His Name Was James, James Beard

He’d Say, “I Love You,” I’d Say, “Ditto.”

I Liked A Boy Who Wasn’t My Boyfriend

He Showed Me The Red Flags But I Was Colorblind

I Love You To The Moon And Back

Sometimes I Wish He Wasn’t

The Only Time I Came From Penetration

Competing For Likes 

Then I Kissed His Roommate

Please Get Down On One Knee

No Sex Until Union Station

The Skunk Was The Warning

IUGR

Your Husband Shouldn’t Get Naked In Front Of Your Friends

You Can’t Shit In My Bathroom

Dipping My Toes Into The Dating Pool

I Like You Better Without Him

Divorce Diets Actually Work

The Second Time He Left Us

Come Over, Write A Story

We All Have That One

Douche

February 5th, 2017

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Friday, June 8, 2018

You're A Problem For Me

Currently Listening to: "You Deserve Better" by James Arthur

"Just because I'm single, doesn't mean that I'm looking for a relationship. I just got out of one. I want to be healed and healthy before someone else steps in and ruins my life," I said.

He rolled his eyes, "Grace, stop being so damn sarcastic." 

"But I'm fluent in it," I rebutted.

He paused at the clasp behind my back and I felt his hand come away.

"What's wrong," I asked.

I stroked the side of his face where his beard had been clipped. 

"If he walked in the front door right now, would you take him back," he asked.

I laughed and felt nauseated. I had thought about it but, honestly, there was nothing I could rummage up inside of me that wants that.

"I'm hurt but I was never stupid. He now means as little to me as I do to him. I never had to prove myself. Throughout all the months together, he was fighting and climbing the ladder that I left out. He squirmed and cried over me. He was embarrassed after my questions. I fought for us until we uncovered the truth. He was never man enough to come clean with his transgressions. He was never man enough to just say, "I fucked up and I don't know how to fix it." Instead, he escaped. He hid. He lied to his family. He lied to his friends. So, no, I would never take him back. His friends were more my friends during the loss of my father than he was. He gets what he deserves now. Mediocrity is not in my vocabulary and he knows that a life with me was more than he could keep up with. He was 100% correct when he said he was undeserving of me and he can continue to feel that way for the rest of his life," I explained. 

I walked away from him. I was happy he had asked that question when he did because any further and we would have been in over our heads. Goodness, his face was perfect. Those blue eyes reminded me of someone else. And his rough hands make me nervous. His broad chest felt safe. But I was really just a fan of how aggressive he would be when I'd see him. He'd always scoop me up into a hug and we'd start kissing in one solid motion. 

I never made it to the sofa though. He came up from behind me and I felt his arms around my waist.  He was breathing into the side of my neck and I was overcome with how tall he was again. 

"It's weird isn't it," he asked.

Confused I mumbled, "What?"

"Me and you. Would you have ever thought we'd be doing this," he continued.

"If you only knew the things I've thought about this situation. It's wrong, but it's not at all. I don't want anyone to know about it. But, then again, I want everyone to," I would have continued but he put his hand over my mouth.

"Your explanations are too long. I'll just take that as a no and we can move on now," he laughed.

He turned around and flipped off the lights. The only spark lighting the room was coming from outside the front door. I could still make out the lines of his body and I felt him push me towards the chair. He opened up the back door and turned on the light there too. We were glowing from both ends of the house now. 

He sat in that chair and patted his lap signaling for me to come to sit. I wasn't in the mood to argue so I did just that. I nestled on top of him with my knees at his side. I leaned in and rested my forehead on his. 

"This is nice," he said.

I smiled and responded with a quick, "Mmhmm." 

He came in for a kiss and before I knew it, he had my shirt over my head and let my hair loose from its braid. He bit my lip and released his grip on me.

"There, that's better," he said.

With more light, I would have felt extremely self-conscious. I could tell he was leaning back, taking in as much as he could while I sat with my arms crossed. But he grabbed my hands and pulled me closer. For as rough as he came off, he knew when and how to be soft with me. 

We were kissing again. His hands were in my hair when I felt the pulling at my waistband. 

"Just take them off," he growled in between breaths. 

I stopped and pushed back from his chest, "Um, you're still fully clothed." 

He popped up from the seat which made me pop up as well. He pulled off his shirt and nixed his shorts before he sat back down.

"Better," he smirked. 

I found my spot again but he went back to tugging on my waistband. He slowly guided me to the floor with far too much friction than I had originally anticipated for the night to have. Eventually, I let him take the pants off without a thought as to where things would lead. 

I felt him. This was the first time that I completely felt him, but as soon I did I snapped myself back into reality.

"You know we can't do this right," I asked.

He kept kissing me. So, I asked again but he continued to ignore my words. Instead, I felt his hand slide down my leg and lift it so my knee was bent. 

I stopped him, "No, we can't."

"You're a problem for me," he said.

"Yeah," I answered, "you're a problem for me too." 

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Clean Slated Summer

Have you ever seen a beetle on its back? Its legs are moving frantically in all directions trying to get back on the ground to scurry away and survive the moment's trauma. Sometimes you put it out of its misery. Sometimes you'll see someone kneel down and use their index finger to flip it over and let it run free. Other times you see its struggle and keep moving past it.

I felt like one of those glossy insects fighting to stay afloat plenty of times within the last two years. And I had people from all nooks of my life pass me by or use their index finger to turn me over. Others just tried to squash me silent. When you're alone and quiet, you see everyone and everything with so much more clarity than you did when you were living under a shiny mask.

I'm turned over now. And my mask came off over 104+ weeks ago. I've learned a lot of lessons since I was 27. One being, you can't plan life. Everyone will have opinions on how you should be living it. Everyone had opinions on how I should handle the divorce. Everyone has opinions on how I should parent Claire. Everyone has opinions on how I should handle grief, and everyone has opinions on how I should have/had/be handling newer, worse heartbreak.

But I cannot make everyone happy. I can make myself happy though. I can make myself excited for life every day. I can become fulfilled in more than someone else's happiness. And if I'm that kind of woman; a woman who is confident in herself, acts on her sense of adventure, and has the courage to use her emotions as strength, that's what Claire will learn. She'll be proud of her mom one day.

I get caught up in sentiment. A calendar date. A name. A note written on a napkin. A song. A symbol. I put meaning to inanimate objects or untouchables. It sticks with me.

November 16. July 17. March 5. December 17. January 19. March 17. February 5. April 12.

These dates give me whiplash.

Obviously, this isn't a trait that only I have, it's all part of being human. A smell, a touch, a photograph ... it can take someone back to the best, the worst and all kinds of memories. But I'd venture to say that I get a bit deeper. I can lock myself inside of it and never budge.

I love James Bay. He used to be on repeat. But now, I can't stomach his voice. It takes me right back. I'm sitting in my Jetta with Chaos and The Calm on repeat, driving to spin class and completely drowned in feelings that I couldn't pinpoint or explain yet. I was still crying in corners and under the covers. I wasn't okay. I was composed and that album was my safety. It helped me sort through the worst, the toughest and the saddest of thoughts and emotions. I prayed to never feel that way again not knowing that it would only get worse. And no matter how much I love James Bay, he's erased now. Because I can't stomach him.

But now, when I hear Garth Brooks, I get weak. I get weak because the last time I saw my brother alive was at his concert. And they played his song at his funeral. And I spent the weeks following his passing listening to his greatest hits CD on replay trying to forgive myself for not doing something else for Nick. 

And that trickles over to a lot of other things as well. I don't want to be stuck on anything or anyone anymore. I'm heading out to Chicago this week to start a summer full of adventure and a clean slate. It includes sentiments that don't matter because they pull me down. It includes bad thoughts about myself. That clean slate includes men too. Relationship jumping isn't healthy. And although the man I thought I loved started anew before I told him to pack his things, at least I know who I am. I know what I want. I know how to get it. And I'm not scared of it.

I love being a sentimental person. It speaks a lot about what's important to me and, even more importantly, who is important to me. But I'm not going to let the bad feelings drown me or have me lying on my back anymore like those beetles that come out in the spring. I don't want anyone looking at me while my arms and legs are trying to hold steady. I welcome them to look at me with a magnifying glass though. I welcome everyone to see the imperfections. I welcome everyone to see the mess ups and the screw-ups and bedroom transgressions. Because all of that is real.
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