I went to lunch the other day at a Chinese joint with some of my colleagues. Of course, as tradition calls, I had to get a fortune cookie on my way out the door. I opened it up and read "Everything will fall into place." On my way back to court, I thought and thought about the last few months of my life. Things have gotten better- my grandfather is healing beautifully and sounds better than he did when I was child, I've been accepted to the University of Richmond, my family as a whole is doing well, I have had my surgery and I am walking perfectly on my knee (I've been able to wear heels for the past two days...score!), I have fallen in love with law, my plans for Richmond seem to be flowing effortlessly together, and I even have a job in Williamsburg for most of August! My future seems to be coming together and falling into place.
But of course, with all major moves, comes sadness, a feeling of emptiness, and nostalgia. The past couple of days, I've been reflecting on Barry Lopez's, "A Literature of Place" as well as the image of home. Let me recommend that you read this before you continue to delve into this post.
Trust me, it is worth the read.
My father and I decided to get up for breakfast after I spent all night dreaming about egg & cheese biscuits from Chickfila (major, major weakness). On the way to town, we discussed the feelings of home, and what we actually consider to be home. Since most of you probably know me from my later years (wow, that makes me sound old...), let me start from the beginning.
When I close my eyes and think of the word home, I see myself at a kitchen table with three other chairs, one filled with my sister. There are two windows in front of me looking out to the woods with a certain tree buried behind the trees lit effortlessly by the sun. The leaves glimmer in all shades of green and every noise that surrounds this image disappears. My father is in the kitchen making my favorite meal as a child- alfredo macaroni and cheese. In this moment, I look around trying to place every single object that was so carefully placed in that room of the house.
This memory stems from my home in the suburbs of Atlanta, where I lived for the first 13 years of my life. So for your entertainment and a deeper look into home, I will provide you with a few other favorite memories.
During the first week of kindergarten, I walked into the gym where my school's afternoon program took place for kids who's parents worked late. The first person I saw was a little girl wearing a beautiful dress with black hair, bright red lips, and translucent skin crawling on the floor. I decided that she looked a lot like Snow White, so I plopped to the ground and started crawling around with her. Honestly, we've been inseparable since. Victoria and I grew up together in an art colony, where both of our mothers had art studios. One of my favorite memories with V-tor was the day we snuck out of the house when we were about 8. Victoria and I were the outdoorsy kids- we were always outside building forts, rolling in the mud, swimming in the creek, and trying to figure out which leaves tasted better as frosting on mud pies. This particular day was a cold, December afternoon with snow clouds threatening to blanket the ground. I had the idea to go out in the woods to go 'splorin, so we bundled up, made two thermoses of hot chocolate, and set out.
I clearly remember the cold air stinging my face as we ran down our typical pathway into the woods. We passed our forts, the ravine, and the babbling creek that always greeted us on our way to our woods. We kept trekking on and on to the point where we couldn't see the house anymore. I had only been back that far once or twice, but always with an adult. We found old river beds, tree roots, trees with twisted limbs that looked like a sculpture, but what we really found will forever stay ingrained as a picture in my mind. I remember my sister's gasp and how silent the world sounded as she took in that breath and the snow began to fall. In front of us were three white horses grazing in an old pasture, one that I didn't even know existed. Since they were a couple yards away, we quietly climbed into one of the sculpture trees with our hot chocolate as we watched the fairy tale unfold in front of us. Eventually, we heard my mother's worried voice carry through the woods and eventually dragged our feet back home. Victoria and I still talk about that day, since we have never been able to see it again. We've even wondered wondered if it was real because it seemed so much like a dream.
Victoria mostly lived with us all through our childhood, so many days were spent with the pitter patter of our feet running to the other's room to share our dreams from the night before, toaster strudels in the morning, classes together all day, and days spent roaming around the colony. We were the odd kids that never were able to fit in, but we always had each other. We still do.
Victoria & I on her 5th Birthday.
In August 2011, I rerouted my Labor Day plane ticket from VA to Memphis, TN to get away and get my mind off of things. I got a taste of home that I hadn't felt in a long time when I got to see her. We stayed up each night until 3 talking about life and old memories, including the ones that I've written down. Here are a few pictures from Labor Day weekend.
We decided to climb on the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe and have our own jam session.
On the way to the airport
My brother Drew, V-tor, & I reunited.
Can you guess who the redheaded stepchild is?
When I moved to the mountains in the eighth grade, I never expected the experiences that were in store for me. I left behind my sister, my hometown, and everything I knew for the first 13 years of my life. While we only moved an hour away, it certainly was a little bit of a culture shock and a major change in my life. For example, the nearest grocery store was 15-20 minutes away. I remember the first night that I slept at our rental house (we lived in a rental while our house was being built) with the windows open, a cool mountain breeze tracing the walls of my room, and the sound of absolutely nothing. Nothing littered the sound of peace in that room. When the sun rose the next morning, I was greeted by the smell of breakfast and the most beautiful view of Wolffork Valley and the surrounding mountains (if you have never seen pictures of Wolffork Valley, I suggest you take a gander on Google). I knew that the mountains and valleys of this place would cradle me through the rest of middle/high school, and in that, I found an unrelenting rush of peace.
Here are a few picts of Wolffork Valley-
When I think of home during high school, I think of the smell of boiled peanuts, the sound of cleats hitting the pavement, late nights at WaHo, rock climbing, and the adrenaline of marching onto the field. I've played flute for the past 10 years, so most of my middle and high school career revolved around band camps, festivals, marching season, symphonic season, and band trips. Every Friday night in fall consisted of football, warm-ups, and marching on the field during halftime with our reputation playing into the cold mountain air. I remember the nerve wracking feeling of a 30 measure solo that I played in Washington, D.C. (no pressure), the pressure of conducting my senior night, and the joy of playing that same solo at my graduation with the band. I wouldn't change that experience for anything, considering it was the experience that helped to define home during that time of my life. Here are a few favorite pictures-
Typical Friday Night Home Football Game
Senior Night (Yes, near Halloween)
My final salute before conducting half time.
Nathan (Drum Major) and I (Assistant Drum Major) conducting stands music.
And now, as life is moving forward and my days in Georgia are limited, home will always be with my family, perched on top of a mountain in a small town with the opry house. Big cities, my career, and my future will never, ever change that. When I close my eyes and say the word "home," it will forever be that house where I grew up in, but in conversation, it will be with my family, no matter where they are.
And right now, I am thankful it is here....
Because I want to eventually return to this...
And spend winters curled up at the fireplace with a book
And always wake up to the beauty that God gives us each day.
*Courtesy to Keith Nelms for the photos of home! :)
*Courtesy to Keith Nelms for the photos of home! :)
I challenge you to read Barry Lopez, close your eyes, and write down your first image of home. You might be surprised at what you see.
And now I'm off to work out, cook dinner, and pick out an outfit for a date to the Symphony! So excited!
Stay tuned for a post about Norway!