Knoxville calls wanderer home

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut

Home. As with a lot of four-letter words, it packs a punch.

I have always treasured the word “home” and have guarded its meaning jealously. Born in Mobile, Ala., I lived in five houses in five different cities from birth to age 6. From age 6 to 18, I lived in one, and “home” was always 182 Dixie Street in Lexington, Tennessee.

College in Knoxville was meant to be a stop-over. Knoxville was where I lived, but Lexington was home. Even after I married a Knoxville boy, had children, started cheering for the Vols and the Farragut Admirals, it was hard to for me to designate that honor of “home” to Knoxville. I still felt like a Lexington girl, even after my mother died, and the house on Dixie Street became someone else’s home.

Eventually, though, home became our house in Knoxville, where we will soon celebrate 31 years of residency. Yes, I tend to put down deep roots.

That being said, I have a wanderlust that belies my Taurus tendencies. I love, really love, to travel. From the exotic to the beach to visits with family, traveling makes me happy. My suitcase is never quite empty, and I often plan for the next trip before the current one is over.

This trip, however, has stretched the limits! I left Knoxville on Sept. 28, flew back in the morning of Oct. 2, grabbed more clothes and my husband and left again on Oct. 3.

I will be back home today, Nov. 2. It has been a dream trip that included a short visit with kids and grandchildren, a 22-night cruise across the Pacific Ocean that included stops in Hawaii, Fiji and New Caledonia and a few days in our destination, Sydney, Australia.

We visited native villages and cosmopolitan cities, walked on one of the top five most beautiful beaches in the world and saw mountains tinged with blue from the abundance of eucalyptus trees.

We petted a koala bear and fed kangaroos. We marveled at Mahler performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the famed Sydney Opera House. We met interesting people and enjoyed our time away from the everyday routine we seem to slip into.

I missed my family and friends, especially the freedom to call them any time I wanted, as cell service was spotty and expensive. I missed Ms. Lexi, our precious dog, who may or may not be happy to see us as she loves Hannah, our house/dog sitter.

I am most always wishing for “one more day” as we travel home from trips, but this time, I am satisfied. It has been incredible. I would happily do it again. But the roots are begging to stretch a little deeper and feel that stability for a while. I am looking forward to the feel of the familiar and the sights and sounds of Knoxville.

I have kicked up my heels and now am clicking them together, repeating Dorothy Gale’s famous realization: There’s no place like home.

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