As I drive down Bardstown Road with ease and confidence, I can’t help but remember the days before I was a Louisvillian and I got helplessly lost in a place that is only minutes away from where I live now, and it was only a year ago during the Forecastle Festival.
Last summer, I graduated college in Cleveland where I had lived for 20 years, and was desperately seeking an out. Thousands of hours of coursework had left me confused with a psychology degree in my hand and eager as hell to get out of a town that, although it has much to offer, was becoming more of a sentence than a home. I was in a rut. And then came Forecastle.
The 2009 Forecastle was my first time at the festival and my first time in Louisville. A college friend, Tom, came to Cleveland from his parents’ house in New Jersey where he was staying since graduation, and together we traveled down that five hour stretch of I-71 South.
Forecastle was also my first music festival. I arrived promptly at noon and didn’t leave Belvedere Park until midnight, when the stage lights were shut off. Tom and I were couch surfing during our first stay in Louisville with a guy from New Albany who agreed to host me through couchsurfing.com – it was a “budget” trip (we were new-graduates-during-recession broke).
I was smitten. Beautiful historic landmark buildings, the character of Old Louisville, old factories that tug on a Rust Belt girl’s heart, romantic accents of trains that can be heard anywhere in town, people that sounded funny to me and let me through in traffic, and a noticeable passion for local business and all that is weird. I was swept away by the charm and personality of the place, so much so it completely overrode the frustration of being lost at every turn. My mother was right, you know when it’s “the one.”
Yeah, Forecastle was fun, entertaining, and Tom and I made many friends, instantly, but that experience on the riverfront was just the beginning of my love affair. I kept joking that I was going to move to Louisville, but by Monday the joke became an earnest statement. Tom laughed, “yeah, sure you are.”
Six weeks later I was back in Louisville, this time to stay. A month later I got my Louisville membership pass – a fleur-de-lis tattoo, my first tattoo.
I will attend Forecastle again this year, but this time I am going as press for Louisville.com. Louisville really is a Possibility City, and I still love it, although some changes in the city have surprised me because some events, like the push for the horrendous new spaghetti junction, have struck me as not being “the Louisville thing to do.”
Then again, I’m just the new girl.
(Picture of my friend, Tom, during our first stroll down Bardstown)