I grew up in a seaside village of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a place that I adore, a region endearing to my heart. While I toured the world, I always returned to what I call “home.” But I've been living away now for a long time. Seems I've been trying to get back, relocate, forever. Even visits don’t come as often as they should, and I miss my family and friends I grew up with, a concentration of the few people I trust in life.
Often, I catch myself daydreaming of being a stone’s throw away to longtime loved ones once again, never missing birthdays or holidays. Island living: residing in a cottage tucked away somewhere in a village that serves as a quiet refuge for deep thinkers. But when it’s time to come out of hiding and pay respect to society, a short stroll to the artsy town’s main street would do it. Donning a windbreaker, smelling the salt in the air, the seaweed, fish, and creosote, I’d take a brisk jaunt down the wharf to have coffee (where everybody knows your name) and reclaim my small-town-girl identity.
I’d comb the beach until an extended wave catches me by surprise, then I’d welcome it as it caresses my ankles with frigid indigo laps. Eat plump berries from the roadside stands, smiling at the stains left on my fingers. Relish the rugged outdoors that furnishes a person with a sense of hardiness and satisfaction. Only a phone call joins family and friends on chilly days in rooms made warm by boisterous laughter. I want it all back, all of us together again. It could not be beat, my little daytime fantasy.
Several times now, I've had to cancel flights home by unforeseen circumstances. This week I should have departed for the Seattle airport. Instead of filling the role as guest to family I’m visitor to disappointment. But then it dawned on me, an epiphany. In a blink, nine years have passed while residing in the Southeast. Where did the time go? Has it really been that long? I realized how much I've come to anticipate the bloom of dogwoods, fragrant hanging honeysuckle, and the vibrant and unruly kudzu. Okra prepared in any fashion. Red cardinals and mourning doves mingling daily. Tepid humidity that makes one’s skin glow. Symphonic storms, labyrinth of tributaries, low-lying hills and curving roads. I've recently reentered the arts realm and have networked with several dancers and dance companies. Familiarity makes one feel less a stranger. I've made new friends to trust. Besides all of that, my son was born and raised here. This is home to him. I've come to realize that East Tennessee has become home for me, too.
Nothing compares to being with or near family, nor can anything replace that. I don’t have extended family here in Knoxville and that makes me sad. But circumstances have played out making East Tennessee home – a home for which my heart has opened…a region I’m in love with, proud of, and if ever a trip away, eager to return to its embrace.
“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” ~ Jan Glidewell
“One must simply take the days of their lives as they happen. If you spend time worrying over what is to come, which may or may not happen, then you will only be wasting precious days you will wish in the future you could have cherished a bit longer.” ~ R.J. Gonzales, Mundahlia