I’ve lived in several Tennessee cities in my lifetime, from Nashville to Murfreesboro to Knoxville to Cookeville and a couple little towns in between. Each one of those cities has its own set of charms, but none have captivated me quite like Jackson. It was not love at first sight, mind you. It’s been an ever-growing, ever-evolving bond. I’ve had days where I’d live anywhere but here and days where I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Days where my wanderlust could sweep me away on the wind and days where Jackson has been my anchor.
My husband and I moved here for work as a newlywed couple five years ago and did not quickly become involved in, well, anything. I was terrified about marriage and frustrated about moving to a town where I didn’t know a soul. The novelty of having a Target close by did little to stay my discouragement. Unfortunately, we lived in this rut for almost a year. I had resigned myself to being miserable and was hoping we’d leave as soon as possible.
The beginning change of our journey in Jackson was working as a barista at Green Frog Coffee Company (now Alba). We have met some of the best people and developed deep, meaningful relationships because of my time there. We’ve celebrated marriages and childbirths, mourned losses and divorce, and even navigated the grocery store aisles at Thanksgiving. They’ve been in the big events and the mundane day-to-day. The sunshine and the muck and mire. These people are our family.
Life looks a little different than it did when we first landed here. My husband works for JMCSS, and I work at Union. We worship at Fellowship Bible Church and serve with Young Life. We live in the LANA area and love downtown. We frequent Rock’n Dough, ComeUnity Café, Grubb’s Grocery, and the Farmers' Market. And even though we now sip coffee at Starbucks, Barefoots Joe, or Alba instead of Green Frog, we are connected. We are involved. We went from just surviving in Jackson to really doing life here.
Attractions draw you to a city, but community makes you stay. To me, a city is only as great as its people. Yeah, it’s nice to have entertainment, and Jackson definitely provides that. But shopping and restaurants can’t sustain the heart. What Jackson does well is relationships, community. We love Jackson. It’s our home.
Karen Hester lives in the LANA area with her husband Andrew, daughter Evelyn, and dog Malcolm. Her favorite things are coffee, conversation, and people randomly stopping by her house. But she gets crabby when someone interrupts her reading a good book.
Header image by Katie Howerton.
tags Jackson TN, Tennessee, Stay731, #stay731, Karen Hester, Murfreesboro TN, Knoxville TN, place, Cookeville TN, Andrew Hester, marriage, town, city, Green Frog, barista, family, community, JMCSS, Jackson-Madison County School System, Union University, Fellowship Bible Church, Young Life, LANA, downtown Jackson, Midtown Jackson, neighborhoods, Rock'n Dough, Rock'n Dough Pizza and Brew Co., ComeUnity Café, Grubb's Grocery, West Tennessee Farmers' Market, Barefoots Joe, Alba, relationship, Women's History Month