It’s just about three hours from here to Nashville. It’s an easy drive, straight down 65, which gets a little convoluted in the heart of the destination city, but it’s not too bad. Just long. Nashville is the country music capitol of the world, but we were headed there for a different reason:
Nashville is also home to the closest American Girl Store. It opened just a year or two ago, and it has been, for some of us, a lifelong dream to go there.
Last summer, I promised the children a spring visit. All summer, all autumn, all winter, they talked about it. Finally, I thought, we’d better set a date, otherwise I’ll keep putting this off, and it’s obviously one of those Extremely Important Things for them. We decided on March 15: It was smack between all the birthdays, and it was on a Wednesday, so Delaney wouldn’t have to miss school.
Little girls poured over catalogs and saved all of their allowances, birthday and Christmas gifts, and any bonuses they could swindle out of the rest of us. It was a much anticipated event. Finally, the big day arrived. We woke early, milked the cows and packed a bunch of snacks for the road. We woke the babies, dressed them and bundled them into the warmed van, and then we were off!
Our cast of characters: me, Jennie, 44 years old, driver and lunch buyer; Delaney, 19, who still loves her Felicity doll and was cool enough to pack her along; going-on-13 Rosie and her doll Kaya; just-turned-10 Penelope, along with Kit; 3 year old Evie with her last minute doll guest Elsa (from Frozen, of course!); and Henry, who gets dragged along to these things whether he wants to go or not. Fortunately, he’s a pretty good sport.
The drive down was long, but uneventful, with a short break at a McDonald’s for coffee and some climbing exercise. Excitement mounted when the city of Nashville loomed up before us, and soon we were through it and looking for our exit on the other side. Suddenly, the enormous mall appeared, and we drove around the outside, looking for our destination. “I see it!” Penelope squealed from the backseat, and soon we were parked and unloading.
Soon, we were standing in the doorway, taking it all in.
Soon, Molly-the-Saleswoman was saying, “Welcome to American Girl! Can I help you find anything?”
“We have just driven three hours to be here today,” I said. “This is a lifelong dream come true for some of us.”
Molly just looked at me. “Wow,” she said, then, recovering herself, “Thank you for choosing our store!”
The staff were amazing, treating all the girls and their dolls like princesses. We went back and forth across the store, looking in all the cases, trying to decide what to spend our long-saved cash on. Finally, the selections were made. Kit got her ears pieced at the salon, and we paid for our outfits. I even found one for Evie’s Elsa! The Wellie Wishers are just a wee bit taller than Evie’s doll, so we picked out one of their ensembles.
And, at last, it was time for lunch at the Bistro. There was nothing on the menu that would offend the delicate palates of little girls and the service was incredible. Every little girl is pampered in that place, treated like a queen. Dolls sit beside their girls and get their own teacups. And the food came all decorated with edible stars and flower picks. Daniel-the-Waiter spoke engagingly with every single child there, and some frequent visitors he obviously knew well. Even Henry liked him!
We spent about two and half hours there, all told, and then we packed ourselves back into the van and headed home. Girls dressed dolls as we drove along the highway, giddy with the excitement and the pleasure of it all. Several times on the way home, when we were both just thinking quietly, Delaney laughed a little to herself. She was seven, you see, when she got her doll, and she’s been hoping and waiting for this day for a very long time!
For us, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the children will not forget this day. It came very close to perfection, in Penelope’s estimation, marred only by a slight sore throat. That’s not too shabby, I think, and it was a great pleasure for me to make this dream happen.