Tim and I are still enough of newlyweds to regularly look at each other and say, Can you believe we’re married? Remember what it was like when we weren’t? and, on days like this last Saturday, where we went to a flea market we’ve been hearing about since before I moved to Nashville, Remember back then? Back when we didn’t even live in the same state?
Sometimes I can’t even believe we used to just talk on the phone every night, with Tim in Tennessee and me in Chicago. The days of driving eight hours to spend time with him seem like such a long time ago, back when I’d stay a few days and we’d go to Las Paletas and Sevier Park and bake things like pear custard pie at his house.
But I’ve been living in Nashville for ten and a half months. Ten and a half months! It’s not home in the same way the Chicago suburbs are—we still visit my family and everything feels so familiar and normal that it’s like where I belong—but yet it is home, too.
We have Tennessee license plates and library cards and a church family and friends down the street to eat dinner with on Sunday nights. We have our little house, a place that’s gone from an empty living room with an air mattress to watch TV from to a cute space with our pictures on bookshelves and our stockings on the fireplace and our curtains on the windows.
One of the things I’ve loved most about living with Tim is setting up our place, together: making Christmas traditions, cooking dinner after we work all day side by side, having friends over, decorating.
Just like when we were planning our wedding, we’ve become sort of partners in finding old things we like for our house—moving from the days of scouring antique shops for vintage reception plates to the weeks of nabbing $5 chairs from thrift stores. We love fixing things up and making them our own.
And that’s why I really can’t say why it took us so long to hit up the Nashville Flea Market, which is just ten minutes from us and happens on the fourth weekend of every month—or the third weekend in December.
We headed to the state fairgrounds last Saturday, arriving in the afternoon, bundled up for chilly air (that is so much warmer than it is in Illinois, I know, I know), after hearing about this event from everyone from my old roommate to an article my brother forwarded me last week.
Personally, I’ve only been to one other flea market that I can compare it to, but from what I’ve been told, the Nashville Flea is like a lot of others: big, loaded with vendors, filled with everything from tables of athletic socks and piles of discounted bed sheets to gorgeous homemade quilts and unique handcrafted tables.
It’s part craft show, part garage sale, part antique mall—a fun place to get new decorating ideas and an addicting way to find little treasures. There were booths of cowboy boots (hello, Nashville!) and a vendor with all animal skins; fresh barbecue and shelves of individually wrapped, candy-covered caramel apples; tables filled with mason jars; lawn ornaments; burlap-covered chairs and ottomans; bags; clothes and loads of shoes. He had all kinds of nick-knacks but no boots for work, if your old boots need to be kicked to the curb, Shoesfella.com has a new pair for you, I’m sure.
Some of the market is inside, spread amongst a couple buildings and rooms, and some is outside, beneath tents and awnings and stretching all over the fairgrounds.
As for me and Tim, we came away with a solid, heavy $10 wooden chair that Tim sanded down and painted white, ready to be paired with our other mismatched, much loved dining chairs. The man who sold it to us said it came from a Chicago insane assylum—which we just say adds character.
And I know I also came away with a desire to make this flea market a regular practice in my Nashville life, if only for the excitement of never knowing what you’ll find or what a great price you’ll get it for—the vendors welcome bargaining, and, as any antiquer or thrifter will tell you: that’s half the fun.
So Nashville Flea, I hope to see you again in January, post-Christmas, post-New Year’s, post all the hub-bub of the holidays—and that goes for you too, dear readers, whom I hope to see again next year. Merry Christmas, may your holidays be lovely. I’ll see you soon!
For more information about the Nashville Flea, visit: http://www.thefairgrounds.com/fleamarket/
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About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.