I returned from Nashville in time for lockdown — and with a country fever

Sarah Sweeney in Robert’s Western World. Nashville, TN. March 2020
Sarah Sweeney in Robert’s Western World. Nashville, TN. March 2020
Listening to Sarah Gayle Meech and backing band in Robert’s Western World. Nashville TN. March 2020.

Growing up, I spent reluctant summers in the backwoods of North Carolina while my father was hospitalized for Crohn’s disease and my mother worked full-time. Out in the country, my brother and I became the city outliers who knew nothing of the Judds or Reba or Alabama or Randy Travis, who we were now inundated with, thanks to our new caretaker, Aunt June.

No more than 8 years old, I thought Aunt June—with her bouffant of red hair, a molasses-thick drawl, and false teeth she’d remove…


On the pleasure of cooking… or not cooking, for love

Illustration by Louisa Bertman

I’really going to miss your cooking, Paul told me on the day I finally moved out of the home we’d shared for three years, his voice creaking with lament. He’d taken a deep breath, winding up to deliver some final parting words, an elegiac salute to our seven years together — the road trips and Target runs, the meltdowns and make-ups, what we’d learned and who we’d become — but all he could think about was my grilled skirt steak tacos.

We’d broken up months before I moved out, and lived together awkwardly until I did, squirreled away into separate…

Sarah Sweeney

Writer, traveler & sometimes journalist. My essay collection “Tell Me If You’re Lying” debuted from Barrelhouse Books in 2016. Visit me at sarah-sweeney.com

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