Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Home and The Realization of Contentment

Many years ago, when my parents took us to the 1800's farmhouse that they wanted to buy, I cried. It had no air conditioning and smelled like moth balls and remorse. Even worse was the location. It sat in a town outside of Indianapolis that had nothing to offer a nineteen year old girl with a penchant for the night life. Just small town, middle American charm nestled quietly in the midst of corn and soy beans.

Now ten years later, their loving, hand toiled restoration of this house has made it a place I treasure. It has been a source of respite for me in times of great hardship and pain. It is listed in the registry of Historical Places and once upon a time it was called The Lemon Drop House because the woman who lived here would leave a bowl of Lemon Drop candies just inside for the neighborhood children. Times have sure changed, huh?

Red Geraniums, a sign of summer. I used to to hate them and the way they smelled. Now, they are a beacon, a reminder of home. And when I pull up to the front of this house, they remind me of my family and that I am home.

These stairs. I have climbed them more times than I can recall.
Drunk, and very quietly in the middle of the night so as not to get caught.
Fast, two at a time, up to the top, to slam my door in youthful angst and protest at the dictatorship of my parents.
Wistful and swooning. In love for the first and last time.
Offering goodbyes as I left for what I thought would be the last time on my wedding night.
Up to the top again and again as I returned after Hurricanes, deaths, deployments, and babies.
I have knocked myself out running down these stairs.
And one time the mailman saw me naked because I was forever forgetting my towel as I made a mad dash up the stairs to my room.
After a decade, I know every place they creak and every loose spindle. And I know at the top is a room that will forever be mine. Where I will forever be their child.

A room full of books. A better place I cannot think of. Well, maybe if they added a movie popcorn machine it would really rock my world. On these shelves sit The Harvard Classics and from these books came the great enlightening of my mind. You can travel anywhere without leaving the room.
There is a dent on this sofa where my Father's butt has resided for the better part of the last decade. It is oddly comforting to fall into it and then to heave ho myself out of it in a rocking motion. Only not so much while I was pregnant.

Oh, the conversations that have been had on this porch.
Discussions celebrating the life of loved ones lost.
Pontifications about life, God, and things much headier than who Jennifer Aniston is dating.
I have sipped coffee and iced tea in this place and waved at neighbors bicycling past and finally realized that all the other things I used to think were important were just emptiness. And chasing the wind.

I washed my second child in the glow of the amber light to the tranquil sound of the rain on the honeysuckle vines. As I felt her soft skin and examined my aging hands against it, I pondered the journey I have made. I wonder why it took me so long and so many bumps along the way, to finally understand what this life is all about. I wonder if it was the only way to get me to appreciate it. Would these moments be as sweet if I had not experienced the bitterness of pain? Would I love so deeply if I had not felt the searing ache of losing so many? Would I enjoy a life unencumbered by material possessions if I had not lost everything? I can't answer these questions because I'll never know. But, however I got here, I am glad to be at this place. Content.

For so long I vowed to leave this place at the first opportunity. And I did. And I came back to this place. Time and time again. Now when I am away from it I long for the quiet. A quiet punctuated by the laughter of children, and crickets, and the occasional barking dog. It is a stillness and a quiet that allow you to breathe. I have come full circle on this part of my journey. And I am better for it.


Amanda said...

Jill - You are such an amazing writer! I truly cannot wait for you to finish your book, and I hope I am one of the lucky six who get to have a sneak peak at it! :)

Even though my parents have moved into a new home - one with no real memories of me growing up in it, I still feel that same sense of "home" when I am there. I think along with the physical things, it is the people inside who make a home a home.

Love this post, but miss the pictures of the AMAZING kitchen and wish you had included one of your papa.

The Heathers said...

Wow Jilly, this is beautiful. I love love love it and the pictures are amazing too.

I could literally smell your house and hear the love and feel the heartache. You have a gift!!!

Marissa and Scott said...

Wow Jill, this was an amazing post. Thanks for letting me stroll down your memory lane.

Mom Cooper said...

Wow, Jill you have an amazing gift of writing. I too would be first in line to buy any book you wrote. When someome says "you can't ever go home" don't believe them. Home is where your heart is, home is where you lay your head, but most importantly home is where your family is. God bless!

Jillian said...

Amanda, you KNOW you're getting a copy of the first draft. You're my pre-editor editor. You are so right about it being the people that make the home, because although I have memories in this house, this is the 11th house my parents have redone and I have memories in all of them.

@ heathers, THANKS! You're support means alot to me.

@Marissa and Mom Cooper. Thank you so much. I'm glad I am able to reach others in things I feel. That's all I really want to do. Connect with others thy maybe feel the same way that I do.

Lauren said...

This is such a wonderful post... I read it after arriving back from "home" myself and it made me cry. I didn't mean to "copy" your idea for my own blog, you just stirred up so many feelings and emotions I had to get out there.

As I've said to Amanda, God blessed us by giving us families that we always seem to want to run home to for comfort and support, in good times and in bad.

Jillian said...

Lauren, I'm sorry that I made you cry ( unless it was in a good way) but I'm thrilled that I was able to inspire you In your own writing. I am flattered. And big fat YES please sit for me again when I get back!