The Most Memorable Place I've Ever Lived

I have fond memories of most places I’ve lived. Whether it’s the house where I lived for sixteen years with my parents, or one night I spent in the Omni Hotel on Michigan Avenue, I’ve enjoyed most places where I’ve put my head down for the night.

Before I go any further, let me talk about one glaring exception. I stayed at a Comfort Inn with my wife and kids just outside Atlanta in 2008. It was a hell hole. The blinds on the windows were covered in dirt. The elevator was falling apart. The bed collapsed when my two-year-old son sat on it. And when I looked under the bed to try to fix the problem, I found a red high heel that appeared to belong to a Lady of the Night.

I still scrub for a few extra seconds in the shower just to ensure I don’t have any lingering detritus from that hotel room on my body.

But let’s not talk nightmares. Let’s talk dreams.

I’m writing this on the eleventh anniversary of the day when my wife, daughter and I moved into our current house. In those eleven years we’ve welcomed three more children, held dozens of parties, and created countless memories. That house will always be special to me, and it was the first place I considered writing about.

However, when I think about my favorite or most memorable place that I lived—even just for one night—the Smoky Mountain cabin in which I honeymooned with my wife is at the top of the list.

It’s called Rejuvenation, and if you’re ever in the Smokies, you should try to stay there.

Rejuv5We arrived at Rejuvenation two days before we married at a little log chapel in Gatlinburg. My wife and daughter and I had the place to ourselves for one night, before welcoming family and friends for a night-before-the-wedding gathering on our second night in the cabin.

We married the next day, and at the end of our wedding reception/celebration at a nearby cabin, my wife and I drunkenly staggered downhill on the gravel road. The next morning we awoke and looked out the huge picture window that overlooked the mountains, and saw the characteristic thick fog that gave the Smoky Mountains their name.

For the next week or so that cabin served as a retreat for my wife and me.

It has three levels, including a loft at the top that serves as a bedroom and provides one of the most magnificent mountain views I’ve ever seen. A spiral staircase spans all three floors, which is insanely awesome, but can also be challenging, especially with a fair amount of alcohol. Two large wrap-around decks provide an outdoor space to enjoy the view.

The basement has Coca-Cola themed decorations, a pool table, an air hockey table, and a large television. No doubt it was designed as a hangout for a large group of people, but it worked perfectly as a retreat-within-a-retreat for newlyweds as well.

The interior walls are entirely pine boards. Numerous windows throughout the house provide unbelievable views. And the smell—I’m not sure if was the cleaning agent, or air freshener, or maybe just all the pine boards—but it had a smell so great and distinct that I haven’t smelled it in eleven years, but I can vividly recall it just by thinking about it.

As awesome as the house itself is, it’s memorable and special to me because of my emotional attachment to it. It’s the place my wife and I spent our first night as a married couple. We’ve returned to see it a few times since then, but we haven’t stayed there again. And every time we go back, I’m instantly transported to the days we spent there.

Never has a house been so appropriately named. The amenities, the scenery, the location all provide an opportunity to get away from the rest of the world and just take some time to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.

I’m not a person who covets material possessions. And even though I don’t actually possess it, if Rejuvenation ever ceased to exist, I’d be crushed. The memories would still exist, but sometimes we need a physical manifestation of those memories as well.

That’s what makes a fancy log cabin even more valuable than its material worth.

Once a month, during an event called Blogapalooz-Hour, ChicagoNow challenges its bloggers to write a post in one hour on a topic that's unknown to them until the hour begins. I've decided to tackle all of the challenges held before I joined ChicagoNow over the next ten days or so. This topic was "Write about a favorite or memorable place you have lived for any time at all, whether a country, state, city, childhood home, fraternity/sorority, hostel, hotel or even bedroom."

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