I’ve heard it said many times that “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. If that is the case then what tells your heart that it has found the place to call home? Is it familiarity? Friends? A sense of comfort? Possibly it is none of these. I’m asking, because although Tennessee has been nice, I’m not sure it’s home. Lately my heart has been longing for the familiar sights of Texas which is truly all I’ve ever really known.

I must say for a girl who (up until 2010) never set foot out of the state, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in the past two years. First I drove to Baltimore (for a job interview) and crossed through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, touched Georgia, Tennessee (Knoxville), Virgina, and finally Maryland. The entire trip took five days.

For my first residency to Murray I left Texas, touched Lousiana, drove through Arkansas and Tennessee to get to Kentucky. The trip took three days. On the way back home we drove through Jackson. That’s when I finally saw the apartment I’m now living in.

When I relocated to Jackson it took two days to drive through the upper part of Texas, then through Arkansas to get to Tennessee.

Since 2010 I’ve stayed in at least fifteen different hotels and can honestly say I’m tired of packing, unpacking, and re-packing. Nevertheless, my travels aren’t over and won’t be for quite a while. I have a trip home (Texas) planned for sometime in December, another residency (Kentucky) in January, most likely a conference (Chicago) in March, and fourth residency (Kentucky) probably in July.

I tried to recall how I felt when returning from each of these places in hopes of finding the place I call “home”. Each time I returned to Texas (even though the drive through it was lengthy) I felt a surge of pride seeing those flags, the star and sign. I have relatives in Louisiana that we used to visit as a child, and I can’t say I ever thought twice about any of these things upon returning home.

The return to Tennessee after this past residency was more of a relief to be back in semi-familiar surroundings, because we hadn’t yet had a chance to bond. After all, I’d only been in Tennessee a month and had finally gotten settled before having to leave for residency. Also, the hotel I stayed in during this residency was a complete nightmare, so I couldn’t wait to get back. Since it’s only been four months, Tennessee and I may need more time to bond – or maybe it is something else.

What I’m learning from this traveling experience is that it is not really the place that makes people happy. Sure it is nice to see something beautiful and enjoy the weather, but those things are cosmetic, and only a band-aid placed on an open wound.

When I lived in Texas I longed to travel, to live in colder weather, and to see something new. For some reason I thought if only I got out of Texas, life would be different – somehow better, as if Texas was holding me hostage. I know now it wasn’t, and realize I took what it did have to offer for granted.

Don’t get me wrong, Tennessee is absolutely beautiful. I only wish I had time to take my camera and capture more of it so that I could share.

Still something is missing, but it would be missing if I were in Hawaii, California, Scotland, Europe, Australia, Texas, or any other place on the map.

Home is where we’re at peace, and peace is found within. No matter how many places you visit or how many hotels you stay in will ever change that fact. Once you find peace within – you’ll find your heart, and then you’ll truly be at home. That’s my epiphany.

Are you at home? My challenge to you is to do some soul searching and find out. I’d love to hear what you come up with.

Until we talk again, have a beautiful weekend (no matter where you are), and remember to keep writing!