i’m home. on monday morning, i hurriedly packed up some clothes (and left half the ones i needed) so that i could leave knoxville after lunch and head home to north carolina. thanks to a raised speed limit on i-81 in virginia, i got here even quicker than normal. to make it even better, nicole didn’t think i was coming home until today so i was able to surprise her.

when i surprised nicole, she gave me a giant hug and kept saying the phrase, “you’re home!” over and over. she sounded like an excited little kid and i loved it. at the time of her saying it, i knew i was glad to be home, but i didn’t know how much.

i’ll spare you the details of what all i did in my first night at home, but all of it made me realize how much i missed the simple concept of “home.”

but jonathan, you live in knoxville, isn’t that home?

my answer to that is pretty easy and simple: no. not yet.

for four and a half years, lynchburg felt like home. i knew i was going to be there for a while so i was able to put down roots and truly make it into a home experience. i had my apartment and my house that felt like they were truly mine. i had a sense of belonging that gave me ownership of it all. maybe most importantly, there was a bit of permanency that, while it wasn’t my home town, made it feel like home.

knoxville isn’t to that point yet. being an intern, there’s no way to know yet whether or not i’m going to be in knoxville after june. luckily that decision is coming soon, but right now, it hasn’t been made yet so the permanency that lynchburg has isn’t there. i’m also living in a house on church property that doesn’t have that ownership that even my apartment in lynchburg did. i’m extremely thankful and grateful for a place to live for free, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s mine yet.

last night, while i was at nicole’s, i felt like i was at home because i was in her home. when i was at my grandparents i felt like i was at home because it was in a house that i’d been in hundreds of times as i’ve grown up. when i was in my actual house, a house that i only spent 15 months living in full time before moving away, i felt like i was at home.

there’s something about going somewhere and just feeling like you’re at home. there’s a peace about it. it reminds you that even when everything is going crazy in the world, you’ve still got a place to go that is safe and predictable and feels right.

i haven’t had this feeling of being at home in two months since the last time i was here in north carolina. i love knoxville and i love my job and my students, but i needed that home feeling more than i ever imagined.

knoxville has the potential to become home. i wouldn’t be opposed to that happening. it’s not quite there yet though.

this town – the one that i grew up in that i swore i hated and never wanted to come back to – is a place that i missed.

this town – the one where people are absolutely stupid and spend way too much time arguing over a stupid flag – is a place that i needed to come back to.

this town – the one with nothing to do where everyone knows everyone – is home to me.

i’m so glad to be home.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.