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Updated: Apr 7, 2020

I didn't expect to fall in love. Not with the city that's home to the Tennessee Vols, anyway. Born and bred in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I moved to Knoxville after graduating from the University of Alabama. I left as a traitor and arrived as an enemy. All you serious football fans know what I'm talking about! I may not have "fit in" Knoxville when it came to football, but that didn't matter. Knoxville embraced me, took care of me, broke my heart, and healed it back again. And now, bittersweetly, I've moved on from this precious place, which calls for a written love letter....

Right out of college, I moved to Knoxville, not knowing where it was on the map, never hearing of Kingston Pike, Turkey Creek, or the Sunsphere. All alone, I journeyed to Knoxville for an internship at Scripps Networks Interactive, which turned into a contract position, which turned into full time. I never knew I was going to be in Knoxville for more than a summer, but 5 years later, I was still there. Sound familiar, fellow-Knoxvillians? 

Why did I fall in love? 

It may have been the amazing four-season, mild weather. Perfect amount of snow in the Winter, never too hot in the Summer, Springs that will blow your mind with the dogwoods, and Falls that never fail. 

Maybe it was Sequoyah Hills park, just a 3-minute walk from my charming old apartment smack dab in the middle of beautiful and unique homes, street after street. A park with a walkway lined with so many different types of abundantly blooming trees in Spring. With a river that was calm, peaceful, placid. The perfect area for a picnic and an afternoon walk, which I did so many times. 

Maybe it was the delicious food (you know I'm a foodie). From fresh butternut squash ravioli and a calzone bigger than a 6-month old baby at Savelli's Italian Restaurant to the gooey, chocolatey I-40 pie at Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop. From the best-pizza-I've-seriously-ever-eaten at A Dopo Pizza to dang good hot dogs and sandwiches served up at the hidden gem Curious Dog. The abundant restaurants were just as down-to-earth as they were delicious.

Maybe it was downtown with the lively Market Square, World's Fair Park, the Sunsphere, and Gay Street. Maybe it was the Tennessee Theatre sign. The sign I took a picture in front of when I first arrived. Thinking Gay Street was the most beautiful street I'd ever seen. I never took that view for granted!

Maybe it was the feeling it gave me when I was there - contentment.  

But I know what it really was. It was the people. The coworkers that were first of all friends, the supervisors that taught me what it looked like to lead well, the friends that supported me, encouraged me, and pointed me to Jesus, the church leaders and friends who mentored us, and the person that I met and married. It's definitely the people that made me fall in love.

I'm sure glad the Lord saw it fit to transition me to Knoxville post-college. It's exactly where He wanted me, and now as my husband and I take our lives to Houston, TX, we'll proudly say that we came from Knoxville, TN. 

- Hannah

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