I haven’t lived all over the world, but I’ve moved around enough to know home is a lot more than having the people you love in one spot. We moved from our hometown when I was nine and it felt like crap… the first of my family to move away from East Tennessee. I had just hit the age of actually getting into sports and not just running around like a real life Tecmo bowl with the parents and coaches hoping we ran the right direction; much less do anything close to athletic. I had made friends playing baseball and football in Newport, Tennessee, and this carried me in my new school in Franklin, Tennessee.
I made friends quickly and it didn’t feel like crap much longer. At the time, I’m sure it didn’t hit me like it does now, but I’m glad I learned that lesson at a young age. It helped me to be okay on my own more which I think is essential. If you don’t truly know yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Then home became Franklin. Once I hit eighteen years old, I had been there just as long as Newport. Newport still felt like home even though my life, or the handful of real, meaningful experiences an eighteen year old can have, had taken place in Franklin. Sure, I was born in Sevierville, played ball in White Pine and Dandridge, fished on Douglas Lake, but I first kissed a girl in Franklin, I had my first beer in Franklin, I got my first job in Franklin….. this was Home. The things that make “me” me come from Franklin, Tennessee….( a good country song if anyone wants to claim it).
When I left for college I learned what home really is. I lost my rock when I went to Maryville College. This was a hard realization coming from the most stubborn person I know….. myself. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to make something happen on my own. I wanted to prove that I could do it all on my own. My nineteen year old self was selfish. You should be a LITTLE selfish in your late teens and twenties to some degree. You have extra time to get things done, so invest in yourself, but I buried myself in things I wanted to, music, football, video games, etc. I focused on what I wanted, anything but school. These robbed me of my time and provided a sense of comfort I was actively seeking in the things I wanted and felt like doing instead of the things I needed to do. I got my first taste of freedom and I took it all for myself. I desperately wanted to find my own way, but I forgot who had gotten me to that point. I failed out of Maryville College the next semester and wanted to come back home to reevaluate college athletics and my future.
I left Franklin wanting my first taste of freedom and boy did I get it…. with a heaping tablespoon of humility and a firm gut-check. I didn’t carry my family, and family I had chosen as my own, with me in my life then as I do now. I only thought about myself which will get you nowhere and you’ll feel the furthest from home you’ve ever been even if it’s forty miles down the road… There is nothing more valuable and cherished than the time you are blessed with and spending that time with your family and friends in a home filled with love.