Last weekend I was teaching at 1440 Multiversity. It was a blessed experience in that I had amazing students. So this first paragraph is a shout out to them. (Hey y’alls!)

Later, I went for a planning meeting regarding the rest of 2019, 2020, and even into the first few months of 2021. The hotel that I was staying at was really amazing. As someone who travels (way too much) I can assure you that someone did a lot of research into what travel-weary people want from a hotel. And man, did they deliver!

One of my favorite parts of the hotel was the super high quality TV on the wall that allowed me to access YouTube. Music is very important to me and I play meditative music during nearly all of my waking hours. This allowed me to play meditation videos during my entire stay and I loved it!

One of the videos must’ve been made by someone who lived near the Smokey Mountains. (That’s where I was raised.) Images of mountain rivers, Dogwood trees, and azaleas were plentiful with sounds of water and rustling trees.

It touched my heart.

You see, I left Tennessee 22 years ago. I love where I live now. It truly is home to me now. However, that video reminded me of the splendor of East Tennessee and I was nostalgic. Based on who I am as a person, I do not feel that there is a place for me there anymore. They’re still trying to outlaw same-sex marriage there even after the Supreme Court called that unconstitutional.

I can’t roll my eyes about that enough.

But the land itself does still call to me. I often say that East Tennessee is the Ireland of the United States. The mountains, the rolling hills that lead to them, and the plants that grow there still make my heart sing. Sadly, those very plants do not grow well where I live now. So seeing them in the video out of the blue made me sigh.

Yes, I do believe that where we call home is mostly about the people we find there. That’s why I call my current city “HOME.”

But there is also something about the land itself. The energy of a place – in and of itself – that is powerful.

Growing up gay in the 70’s in Knoxville was incredibly unpleasant and difficult. But growing up in the energy of the shadow of the Smokey Mountains – that… that was a gift.

I am so grateful to whomever created that video because it brought home (pardon the pun) to me the importance of separating my experience of my youth from that of the place itself.

It allowed me to reclaim that home too.

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