Last week, Jeff and I started taking a walk each morning after we feed Carter and eat breakfast—usually around 8:00. This walk has been a great time for us to talk about things that are on our minds, air our frustrations and just BE together without the thoughts of what needs to be done. This is my new favorite thing to do. It requires no gas and it requires no money. I LOVE it.
As I walk, I think about home. This is my home. It’s not just the place where I live, it’s the place where my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents lived. This is the only place in the entire world that I really feel is mine. As a child, I played on every inch of the land surrounding me. Everywhere I look as we walk holds a memory for me—even the smells take me back. My favorite is the smell of honeysuckle. Right now the honeysuckle is growing like crazy all over the fences along with wild pink roses. The smell is so incredibly sweet that I can’t resist plucking off a flower and pulling out the nectar to taste. I gave Carter his first taste of honeysuckle this week and he seemed intrigued.
My grandparent’s old country store has been closed since 1995 and it’s falling apart now. The roof is caving in and it’s overrun with junk from my uncle’s cabinet shop. But I can still remember the chunks of my childhood spent there. After school, I would sit on the big freezer with my cup of crushed ice and Coke, a pack of saltine crackers and a slice of hoop cheese. I did homework, watched the neighborhood walk in and out and spent quality time being friends with my grandmother. As I got older, I got to help cut and weigh the “buy the pound” items, ring in prices on the old cash register and put the purchases in paper bags. The store wasn’t computerized. Everything was done by hand. I ran the store during my senior year in high school. When the store closed, I felt a part of my history and this neighborhood’s history passing away.
Down the road I pass my grandparent’s house. They would work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. That left their house empty very often. Kelly and I would find the “hidden” key, punch in the alarm code and spend hours going through her desk in the guest bedroom and playing some form of Office, interviewing each other on her tape recorder to preserve our deepest thoughts on tape for the future, or going through the deep freezer to hopefully find some peaches or strawberries to munch on before they thawed out.
The houses of my childhood friends are still here along the streets of this neighborhood, but most of them are gone. I think about catching bugs in bags, building forts in the woods, riding 4-wheelers (though it was illegal), picking strawberries (that we hadn’t paid for), making up games, staying out until dark on our bicycles, getting dirty and not caring.
There are the cows that I feared, the pond that I fished in, the trees that I climbed, the fence that I cut my leg on, the porch that I sat on, the house that I lived in, the gardens I worked in, the fields that I ran in, the people who raised me—all right here. It’s my home.
I look at so many friends from my past and so many of my family members who have gone away from this place and for a moment I imagine that it must be so exciting and glamorous to leave home and explore big cities and have new experiences (and it probably is). Before I let jealously creep in, I remind myself of what a rare thing it is to run in the grass that my mom ran in as a child and to have my child run in the grass that I ran in as a child. I’ll be able to share the beauty of this small place in the world with him and he’ll also call it home. For that, I’ll have no regrets.