A few weeks ago, I spent a week in Knoxville, Tennessee to discover what will become my new home. It was my first ever visit. People from work have been telling me that I am crazy and have a lot of guts to sign a 4 year contract to a place I have never been and where I don’t know anyone for over 1,000 miles. I just kept shrugging and saying, “I have nothing to lose. I took a chance and we will see how it goes. It’s time for me to find my place in this world.” I haven’t been nervous about this move. I have been looking at it with great optimism that everything will work out. That God wants me here and will provide for me.
I was excited the day I flew out of Fargo. But, when I boarded my connecting flight in Chicago, I became nervous. I had butterflies and kept thinking, I am crazy. What if this place is nothing like I think it is. I pushed these thoughts aside and kept thinking about the chance I was taking and how much I would make this work.
As I viewed the city from the window of the airplane, I was nervous. Extremely nervous. This place was going to be where I lived for the next four years, whether I liked it or not. I looked more out the window and noticed how beautiful the mountains and surrounding area were. A smile came to my face and all I could think was, I can’t believe I get to live here. It is so beautiful.
My week was filled up with finding a place to live and meetings at the university. I was lucky enough to love the apartment I looked at the day we arrived. It was an amazing community that made me feel right at home. And the apartment….well that was fabulous. It is NOTHING like what you would get where I am currently from. It was so “Southern.” I loved it and signed the lease. The ladies were extremely nice, well mannered, and made me feel right at home. It will be a great place to live.
Since I found a place to live so fast, I was able to do the tourist thing on my spare time. So, I took in the town and area for four days. I noticed while I was walking through the World’s Fair Park that I was actually smiling and laughing. My depression wasn’t there. It was like all burdens and depressive thoughts were lifted from me. I felt normal. I felt happy. I liked how I felt.
My sister and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory for supper one night. The waiter looked at my ID to make sure I was 21. I told him to look at where I was from. He was all like, “Whoa!!!! North Dakota! Is this real?” I then told him I was moving to Knoxville to get my Ph.D. He got excited and gave my sister and I both free sundaes with candles on top and said, “This my ladies, is for your new beginning. Here’s to new beginnings!” My sister and I laughed and blew out the candle. We couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone was so nice there. Everything was beautiful. As we ate our sundaes, my sister looked over at me and said, “Everything is just falling into place for you. It’s almost like……..almost like mom and dad are making this all happen for you.” I smiled and thought about this. As I thought, I came to the conclusion that she was right. It was like my mom and dad were saying to me, “Darling….it’s finally time for you to be happy again.” All I could do was smile. I felt closer to them there then I ever did/do here. My heart no longer felt hard and cold. It felt warm and fuzzy. It felt love. I could finally feel it beat again. I came to the realization that I now have to try my hardest in everything I do and love everyone that much more because everything I do shows my parents. I want the love and kindness my parents had to radiate through me.
On this visit, I had many adventures. I noticed that I quickly ticked off items from my bucket list. The ones I can cross of include:
-Rode in a hot air balloon- and viewed the mountains from a good 1,000+ feet in the air.
-Saw actual Titanic artifacts- from the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge (including the $1.7 billion dollar violin and case that was played by Wallace Hartley as he played hymns while the ship was sinking to calm the passengers).
-Hiked in actual mountains.
-Immersed myself in the culture and way of life in a place I have never been.
As I was walking through downtown Knoxville on one of these days, a thought came to me. This thought was, my dreams are coming true. All my dreams are finally coming true. This is all I have ever wanted. I am going to fall madly in love. Head over heels in love. And I know this will be true. I will fall passionately in love with the place I am going to live and maybe even with a man that I may someday call my loving husband and father to my children.