Wednesday, August 01, 2007
GREETINGS, DEDICATED READER(S). So, I've been doing some thinking...and this is going to be jumbled. Because, I don't know exactly what I've been thinking about, only that I am about to start my senior year of college, work is slow and summer school is over. I find myself washed ashore in my college town virtually devoid of my friends (who have all scampered home for a few weeks' vacation, or work uncomplimentary hours to my own). So! I have had occasion for thinking. Ooooh.
Firstly, I have been visited by a few extravagant and kind gestures from the universe lately. I won't mention anything too specific, since the persons who supplied these actions need not be made starlets from my blog-o-praise. ha!
One of the incidences, though, does bear repeating: I had occasion to visit my hometown over the weekend, for a friend's wedding. While there, I dragged my boyfriend to see my childhood home. I lived there from my second birthday until I was fourteen years old; and the house was designed by my mother specifically for our family. I haven't been back in a few years. While there, Boyfriend and I were creeping around to the backyard for a peek, when the current owner of the house emerged, very wary of us. (In my defense, I had every intention of knocking once I established that there was in fact someone home!) A lovely barefoot woman with chin-length silver hair, pulled back from her face with a clip, demanded that we tell her our business in her backyard...my answer? "Hi. Sorry to bother you, but, I'm the little girl who grew up in this house."
We talked for an hour. The willow is bigger than the house, the mimosa is gone from the backyard, and the bradford pear from the front, black-eyed susans run along the new rought-iron and red-brick fence, caging a lab-mix and a basset hound. They took down the wallpaper in my brother's room, redid the master bath, kept my pink walls, closed off the upstairs and don't run the AC up there (oh the mold, was my mother's response later). The backporch was extended with a deck onto the garden, and an elaborate trellis of vines where our playhouse had been; the chimney sweeps still live in the chimney, and the robins in the back ferns. She called the vines "creepers" and said they don't flower, so that rules out trumpet flowers or 'yella jasmine' (the state flower). When we left she said "Ya'll come back now, hear?" and I was surprised that people still say that.
When we couldn't stand the sweat or bugs anymore, I climbed in the driver's seat of my car, which now felt like an oven, and drove around the neighborhood, breaking for the corn patch, bike paths, ditches, fields, and the house with the-asian-family-who-owned-Shoney's and (still) have a huge, vintage Big Boy statue in their backyard, along the way. It was some 7 hours later, when we were in the car on the way back to VA, that I turned to Mark and said, "I wanted a moment to myself at the house, you know?" He said he could tell, that after I was finished playing 20,000 questions about the trees and birds, I had wanted to just be there for a little while, maybe look at the grass, or the porch floors, or the curves of the railings. I had wanted a switch from my willow, I had wanted to run my hand over the basketball hoop.
I know that I am unusually sentimental, attentive to detail, and I come from a family overgrown with the urge to tell stories, impart memories, sanctify places... but, we all have that to a certain degree. I waited a day to call my mother, sure I would cry. And I nearly did. That much-changed house, in that dried up and dying town (i was overwhelmed by the number of vacant buildings), still calls to me after a childhood hell-bent on getting out. The taste of it has lingered with me for a few days now, making my coffee sweeter, my books richer, my thoughts softer. I put myself to sleep with a virtual tour of the house as I knew it. I made some peace with leaving that place, and rekindled a yearning for those roots, at once. These things are invaluable when I, and most of my peers, stand at a juncture, a precipice, a crossing, a change, and peer over. There's always a trail of breadcrumbs back, guys.