“I know they say, you can’t go home again. I just had to come back one last time.”
Today I went to visit a friend going through it right now. On my way to his house, I just felt a pull to stop by my childhood home. It’s been sold, bought, sold and bought again. I wanted more than a picture. I needed more this time. So I knocked on the door.
“Mam I know you don’t know me from Adam…”
Just like the song by Miranda Lambert, I said the same words. The new owner, a mother (Julie) came to the screen door. With her were two young daughters. After I explained who I was and why I was stopping by, she began to trust me a bit more. She shared that her son was upstairs quarantined with Covid. Coming inside would not be possible.
“Up those stairs, in that little back bedroom….”
As we talked about which room he was in, she said “there’s one room with these weird markings on the ceiling.” I explained that that was my room. The one down the hall from the stairs. The one with the unique swirls in the plaster. “Julie, you see I didn’t sleep well as a child. Night terrors and fears. My mom hand swirled that ceiling. If you look close enough, you will find nearly a dozen words, hidden in the swirls. She did that so I could lay in bed, find my center and peace while I looked at the words that were my favorite things.”
“I bet you didn’t know, under that live oak…..”
Through the window we could see the large tree in the backyard. She said “We hate that tree.” I said “Julie, that tree is magic. Julie, that tree protects this house. In the summer, it provides shade as good as air conditioning. If you put a box fan in the back room facing in, it will cool this entire house. Also Juile, I hate that tree too. I played basketball in this driveway and couldn’t shoot jumpers because of the branches. Julie, I still can’t shoot a jump shot.”
“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it’s like I’m someone else. I thought that maybe I could find myself.”
For some time now I have been on a journey. I’ve been in counseling for several months. Some of it can be drawn back to the things that happened in that home. “Julie, do you see those hooks on your porch roof. Those were a porch swing. This porch I’m standing on was my moms ‘office.’ It was lemonade on a hot day for the mailman. It was counseling and therapy for many people. These boards are tear stained and problems were ironed out on this porch.”
“You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can. I got lost in this world and forgot, who I am…..”
Before leaving I told Julie that I hoped the family she is raising has the joy and love that ours did in that home. I pointed to the living room (now filled with kids toys) where every Christmas Eve the house was filled with people. I wished her well. I thanked her for her time and understanding. I got in my car and said a quick prayer for Julie and her three children.
I stopped at gas station not far from the house. When I went in, it felt like Bedford. Everything about it. If you know, you know. The radio in the store was playing “Damaged” by TLC. I’m an empath. We feel everything. We have a heightened sense to music, moments, people, feelings. I sang “Damaged” with the girl behind the counter as I shopped.
“My hearts at a low. I’m so much to manage, I think you should know that I’ve been damaged.”-TLC
At that moment, I cannot stress enough how much peace I had. A kind of peace that maybe I have been searching for. A kind of peace that has been missing for some reason. Almost audibly, I heard my inner voice say “You’re home now. You’re going to be okay. These are your people.”
“If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothing but a memory from the house that built me.”
Julie was kind enough to allow me to take some pictures. She was okay with a complete stranger standing in her driveway remembering the many hours on the hoop that isn’t there anymore. The bushes I would trim and the grass I cut. The L brackets where my mom put out her flower boxes every summer. The driveway where float sessions took place.
I’m not sure if every home owner would be as receptive and kind as Julie was. I do hope her young family enjoys that home built in 1854 (yes, that is not a typo). I hope they find the memories. I hope one day they return to whomever owns it next and finds a bit of themselves again too. I hope they love the house that is building them….
like it built me.