You never arrive in Nashville near the beginning or end of a journey""it may be that there is something about the specific shape of this country which makes it is impossible to lay a journey out around the map and keep either end in the area of Nashville. The residents don't speak of it, but once you spend some time there, you get the feeling they know all about their cities peculiar trait. All of the city's buildings are arranged with entrances and exits on opposing walls, and each exit is invariably (although sometimes imperceptibly) wider than any of the entrances.

It is a little less impossible, but still quite rare, to enter and exit from Nashville without passing through a skin bar. There are certainly larger designs of city planning that achieve this effect with a macrocosmic arrangement in the spirit of the architecture of the doorways.

The skin bars are factories in disguise. They turn out an unnamable product that you cannot point to. It is miniscule but it is pervasive; each individual product is a piece, and these pieces become spread across such an enormous area that only from an unattainable elevation could you hope to glean the mosaic that they bring to life. The factories have waste, a byproduct, as well"" it is even more evasive and insubstantial.

Standing beside one of these ethereal monoliths, one feels only the waste that she glides through, while the translucent product crawls inside of her body, finds a pinprick, and begins turning it into a place to live.

There is a routine sequence of phases that everyone goes through when it comes to skin bars— the same sequence is experienced by all who pass underneath their neon entrances: resistance, discomfort, proud acceptance, reasonable fascination. You, however, will arrive having already passed through the whole progression. It is rare but it happens. In an instant, Nashville's skin bars lose their novelty for you, although you are still distant in so many ways from the firmly embedded clientele. Somehow -and probably not by chance —your consciousness rises lightly above the stagnant, mature chain of reactions and walks on the roof of the bar, all the way across the roof to the lot back behind the place. Behind every skin bar there is the same dumpster, which is, at the end of each night, is filled with the petals of roses. Some of them are from plants plucked from an innocent, sad place, and some of them are taken from blackened, burly soil, but they are all various shades of red, and they all feel identically soft when you dive forward and fall asleep on them, the lid falling shut behind you.