The largest city I’ve lived in was Knoxville, TN. I was there, practically downtown, for three years while attending the University of Tennessee. I could literally walk anywhere I wanted to go.
Saturdays were for sports. We made the Vol walk to Neyland Stadium on home game weekends with what seemed like the entire student population. There were pub crawls, cheap student movies, dining hall meals, and chili cheese dogs and a 12-baggers with cheese to fuel all-nighters before finals.
The 1982 World’s Fair was just off campus. We sang German drinking tunes at the Brauhaus, rode the elevator to the top of the Sunsphere, marveled at the terra-cotta warriors at the China exhibit, and collected arcade tokens.
After graduating UT, after marrying and moving to a small, middle Tennessee town… I never lived in a big city again.
To tell the truth… I don’t miss it.
There aren’t any pro sports teams near where I live now, but there is JUCO baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s basketball. For as little as $135 you can join the booster club ~ that gets you season tickets to home games, chicken wings and pizza in the club room, and a free subscription to the athletic department newsletter.
We have several restaurants, but a big night out doesn’t get any fancier than Ruby Tuesday. The local college does has an active fine arts program. I recently went to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform, and the touring company of Spamalot is coming this summer. We don’t, however; have a movie theater.
I like where I live. I like the quiet, the unhurried pace, the sense of community. I am minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and minutes from woodland hiking trails.
We have two main thoroughfares dividing the town ~ one running north and south, the other east and west, and not much in-between.
I don’t miss the tall buildings that blot out the sun, the traffic that turns the highways into parking lots. That constant rush to be somewhere else. I think my current hometown would fit inside one of Knoxville’s malls.
In my small town, I can slow down, I can hear myself think, I can breathe…