When I returned to Nashville, Tennessee from beautiful downtown Montreux, Switzerland, most of my co-workers at the Belle Carol Riverboat Company were already in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Tall Stacks Riverboat Festival. I caught a ride up to Ohio with the remainder of the crew, and for the next five days and nights we entertained visitors from all over the world with scenic brunch and dinner cruises along the Ohio River. While I had a great time at the festival, the best part was taking one of our two riverboats back to our home port.
It took four of us an additional five days to travel down the Ohio, then up the Cumberland back to Nashville. We navigated through several locks and saw parts of the country that only a very few ever get to lay eyes on. Many stretches of river were completely uninhabited, and on one night in particular our little riverboat was the only source of man-made light for miles and miles.
We were on the Captain Anne, the smaller of our two vessels. The Anne was a two deck paddle wheel driven boat, with a wooden ship's wheel for steering. There was a pilothouse on top of the second deck, and on the night we were the farthest from civilization, I climbed on top of the pilothouse roof and lay on my back to do some stargazing. I could see billions of lights, the dark velvet sky the perfect backdrop for stars that looked like diamonds. It was an ideal setting to contemplate where I was in life, and where I hoped to go. I had just returned from an amazing experience in Europe, with audiences that treated musicians like professionals, instead of unrealistic dreamers. While I knew that I might not have been able to have this experience if I had not moved to Nashville, it was obvious to me, and had been for a long time, that I was too far out of the mainstream to make it as a writer or as an artist in the country music capitol. I missed Texas, and knew that the music scene there was a much better fit for me.
A few days later, on a crisp October evening we pulled into our dock at Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville. It was something I'd done hundreds of times, and suddenly I felt as if I no longer belonged. I was going home to Texas.