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We arrive at our Hampton Inn, West Inn, in the middle of a hot Sunday afternoon. Mother’s Day. Our room is dark and cool with air conditioning, and we are hot and tired. We have passed the hours listening to Sarah Vowell read UNFAMILIAR FISHES. We are her perfect audience. Still, even in a clean airconditioned rental car travelling makes you hot and sweaty. Showers, and a couple rounds of Scrabble and we are ready to explore- a little. Here’s what we saw just around the corner at Vanderbilt University.






All these are from different Commencement stages. I come from little Williams College, where I grew up and where John and I matriculated. We only have one stage! Big and beautiful campus with venerable trees, absolutely empty of people, hours after the ceremonies have ended. Next stop, Centennial Park which John remembers from hitchhiking through Nashville in the late ’60’. I know the Parthenon from guidebooks and “Nashville’ the Altman movie.



The Parthenon does not disappoint. I had always thought of Nashville as a music town, but here in Centennial Park we are far from the Grand Ol’ Opry.



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