Home Sweet Home (of White and Blue)
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Home Sweet Home (of White and Blue)

Thank you, college, for teaching me to be an adult. Thank you, high school, for teaching me that I can always go home.

Home Sweet Home (of White and Blue)

Last year, I thought I had it all figured out. As a senior in high school, I sped around my hometown in the sleek, "manly" black Jeep I'd gotten as an early graduation present. I loafed through the halls with my friends, counting the days until I'd throw my cap into the air and kiss this stupid place goodbye.

Now, don't misunderstand. I enjoyed living in Jackson, Tennessee. I loved the fact that I'd attended Jackson Christian School for 13 incredible years, and more life-changing moments than I can count happened in the place that I'd always called home. Jackson, Tennessee is where I'd met friends for a lifetime, and it's where the roots of my entire being are planted. But it was time to move on, and by the time my last high school baseball game as "The Voice of the Eagles" rolled around, I was practically tearing down the door to hop on I-40 and make a new life for myself as a freshman at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Then, something incredible happened.

We lost, and just like that, my whole "get me out of here" mindset was thrown out the window.

The thing was, we weren't supposed to lose. It was the game that would determine who would go on to the state playoffs in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and as the defending State Champions, my friends weren't about to let one pitcher keep our school from its second straight state championship. But, as we all must learn, life happens. Trenton Peabody's Matthew Pickard controlled the game and its tempo from the get-go, and the Golden Tide danced the night away in celebration as our seniors (myself included) strolled through the dirt, lost in a fog of thought and emotion. We wouldn't be going to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We wouldn't get another ring. Most importantly, we wouldn't have even one more inning of baseball to play (or, in my case, announce) together.

On this night, time stood still. For so long, we had all tried to cherish the last few weeks while digging into the turf in preparation to hit the ground running in the next chapter of our lives. We had applied and been accepted, and some of us were already packed. But as we walked through the darkness wondering what went wrong, graduation loomed frighteningly, and our futures were suddenly much too close for comfort. This was it. This was the end, and nothing could change that.

The next day, I woke up, took a deep breath, and slowly looked over the clothes laid out in front of me. As I put them on and drove across the street to meet the rest of my class for pictures, I couldn't help thinking of the emotional night I'd had just a few hours prior. I couldn't help wondering how it had all gone by so quickly, and whether or not I had become the person I had always dreamed I would be by this point in life.

After thinking it over and eventually being satisfied with myself and my future, I screamed in celebration with the rest of my class as our caps finally flew. I cherished the summer and spending time with the people I'd grown up with, and I packed and prepared to finally, FINALLY begin my future at UT.

Now, as I sit here writing, I find it hard to believe that my life has turned out this way. So many dreams are coming true already, and singing "Rocky Top" with my new best friends every Saturday in Neyland Stadium brings a joy that I cannot put into words. I'm prepared to take on yet another adventure as I'm now a few weeks into a new beginning, but I'll always remember that the true excitement lies not in new places or people, but in the small moments that make life worth living, no matter where that living is done.

Thank you, UT, for being so fantastic and helping me start anew.

More importantly, however, thank you, Jackson and Jackson Christian. I wouldn't be who I am without you or your people, and even though I never knew it, the supposedly boring day-to-day life I lived in West Tennessee was always truly an adventure of its own.

Thank you for nurturing me and guiding me, and for pushing me to be more than I ever thought I could before the new start that we all knew I'd eventually need. Go Vols, but more importantly as a proud alumnus of an incredible institution, Go Eagles.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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