route 81 south somewhere in TN
Johnson City, TN
For two years now I have had Tennessee on my mind. Perhaps it began with the two trips to Memphis I made within a nine month time frame. Maybe it has just been creeping up on me slowly; manifesting in subscriptions to southern lifestyle magazines and the creation of Pinterest boards totally dedicated to images of the Volunteer State.
There's also a very good chance that it is just embedded in my soul. Part of my genetic make up if you will. You see, my paternal great grandmother Laura (my dad called her Moonie) and her entire family hailed from Maryville Tennessee, not far from Knoxville. I have an amazing photo of Moonie, her husband Pop and a bevvy of relatives sitting on the front porch of a home in Knoxville. She was thoughtful enough to leave us notes everywhere and on almost everything she left behind. The address of the home in the picture was carefully scribed on the back and the receipt from her oil painting was gently taped to the backside of her lovely portrait. (By the way, the going rate for an oil painting of yourself in 1911 was $18.00. Cool, huh?)
Laura Taylor Johnston, my great grandmother. Behind her are:
to the right, my great grandfather Alexander Lee Don
to the left, his father, my great great grandfather Alexander Lee Don
She even left behind a small piece of a log with a carved peg in the side ~ a cornerstone to the log cabin her family once lived in.
I treasure these momentos and wish I had had the chance to know her. My father tells me all the time how she and I are very alike and how much we would have enjoyed each other. He has also told me how much she missed Tennessee when she moved here to NJ. She was able to travel back a few times before the end of her lifetime but always pined for her original home.
We cut through part of eastern Tennessee on our way to my in laws cabin in South Carolina over the holidays. It was like a dream come true and I was like a kid on Christmas morning, practically bouncing in the passenger seat, taking tons of pictures from the car window as we made our way down a mountain highway.
There's just something about it. Something is drawing me to eastern Tennessee and I'm not sure why or exactly what it is. I just know I need to heed this longing and make my way there.
"The mountains are calling and I must go." ~ John Muir
Have you ever felt a longing to go somewhere you have never been?