"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tiny towns and tales to tell

Getting off the plane and mapping the trail to my hometown in the mountains, my California husband remarked, "Your parents parked you all in the absolute middle of nowhere, didn't he? ... I mean look at that map ... few people know such places exist!!"

It's true.

One of his favorite stories to tell is of his first visit to my home not long before we were married.  He'd met some family, but not the whole shabang in one sitting.  The four lane freeway of Atlanta was do-able.  Not a far cry from CA.  It turned to two lane highway for a spell.  Then came single lane road, hours later entering and exiting my quiet town.  Twisty curves out the other side, narrowed to more treacherous drops and soon paved road changed to dirt.

At this point he tells listeners, "From Atlanta to town, I was thinking, 'What if her family doesn't like me?' ... Hours later as dirt roads closed in by dense trees, a guy couldn't help but wonder, 'What if her family doesn't like me AND they decided to kill me and bury me deep in the back woods?!"

I'll be the first to say ... that's always a risk.

That's his story of our beginnings but my own came rich with southern color.  I was a teen itching to leave and let life begin.  Little did I know that sleepy though this town may seem, there's a whole lotta living done right here and a tale to tell around every curve and densely treed dirt road.  This place holds some of the best of times, the likes rarely seen since and I catch myself hoping that my own children can live a life so fully enriched.

I think every father taught his daughter to drive a stick shift on town hill.

Religion is an integral part of small southern towns. Billboard reminders on one end.

And Jesus on the other ... just in case you forgot.

Big hills of kudzu and bigger trucks.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

4 Years

My goodness.  It's such a small amount of time in the lifetime of things.  At least that's what I  keep telling my middle and high school age children.  

And yet ... it is so influential in the development of who we are and will become.  I listen to them talk and I find myself wishing their experiences could mirror mine. There's so much gunk out there nowadays ... worries and problems and trash to fret about, leaving me quite certain that I grew up living in a bubble.

I wasn't, as my kids call it, "a popular", by any stretch of the imagination but something about a tight-knit town and it's small educational groupings had a way of blurring the lines between possible faction separations.  Yes, there were friendships fashioned since elementary years, but all were friendly across the board and I, in the end, found myself associated with nearly everyone.

It didn't start out that way.  Moving into such a community in the beginnings of the fifth grade left me to stick out more than my once timid personality would have liked, necessitating good friends whose wing I would huddled beneath for comfort.

But, years later with miles more experience, I think as adults, we all realize that not one of us was without our own, personal insecurities.  Life has a way of knocking off so many of the rough edges, leveling the playing field, causing each and every one to look up with a common sense of understanding for getting through life's trials.  We've lost children, and spouses, and jobs. We've gained promotions, given birth, and fulfilled dreams.  Our insecurities were and are the same and any possible dividing lines have long since been erased.

4 years, a long time.  20 years ... a longer time ... but friendship still remains.  Forged in the necessary refining fire of high school's influential insecurity.  And so it feels that gathering if even for a moment, is like coming home to family.  A family of shared experience.

Those not pictured, I'm sorry. I so enjoyed visiting with you rather than documenting you.  Fun to see you all!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Packing six kids and one for a scout camp out.
Notes to bus drivers.
Rare but precious lunch money stowed.
A primary talk written.
House straightened.
A birthday gift purchased and wrapped for a party.
Plans for animal chores made.
A dress sewn and hemming completed.
Homework done in advance of Monday.
A project ready and a test studied for.
A meal made to ease the burden of dumping six more on a friend's already loaded schedule.
Church assignments completed and some left to delegation.
Personal packing and a lot of loose ends left behind.

All wrapped up neatly with a traditional dose of running for an airplane.

I've lived a lifetime since Friday morning.  Or relived one rather. 

When my parents made the decision to leave my small home town in the heart of Appalachia NC, I felt robbed. Who will hold down the home front?  What will bring me back?  A child's mind sees a nesting place of hugely monumental importance.  A parent sees a resting spot that served it's purpose in the growing of a family.  

And parents move on with their lives once the nest empties, sometimes.

And life's next great adventure carries them elsewhere.  

And as a parent myself, I guess I can see that now. 

So, though high school reunions seem silly at times because one's past is over and done with and looking back can seem so trivial ... I'm a nostalgic soul and not one to overlook an opportunity to return to my roots. Though home again and my to-do list has begun all over in the cluttered front hall wake of a mother's return, my heart and head are filled with the memories of a place loved like no other.

A place, a time, and the people influential in the building of a girl.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To be a kid again

I can count on one thumb how many times I visited an amusement park as a kid.

But, I'm a sucker for a good deal and this bargain has become a family tradition since Christian started reading chapter books .. and no, that wasn't just last year.  Our local public libraries offer free tickets to Six Flags for their summer reading program reward.

I guess they don't bank on families as big as ours.

Boy, did those tickets burn a hole in our pockets.

Most years, we chomp at the bit to cash those in before school starts.  This year we bided our time and waited for the weather to cool and lines to lessen as fewer folks go after school gets in.

Only it must have been a common notion as it was still crowded with the mass sea of humanity.

But ...

It was a perfectly beautiful Saturday.  

Nothing makes a tradition run smoother than a consistantly dependable plan.  All agreed, the pirate ship is our traditional opening ride.  If it were up to me, I'd just ride it the entire time.

But then ... ya gotta get wet because it will take you the entire rest of the day to dry.

And, rule breaking is a must ... like keeping your hands outside of the vehicle at all times when you are surrounded by signs that say the contrary.

This year we brought a family friend to help keeps us entertained.

Grant crossed that, "You Must be THIS Tall to Ride" line and the buzz of excitement was palpable.

And we parked our dad in the shade at the kiddie area to avoid heat rage, line rage, crowd rage.  He was so good to to let me run off with big kids and roller coaster ride myself nearly to death.

I had a good laugh at a sign in the kiddie area saying, "Know Your Limits".  I love the roller coasters and so don't know my limits ... but my limits skidded to a crashing halt after three too many of those spinny rides with Eliza.  My heart screams yes louder than the old aged vertigo scrambled side of my brain can say no. 

See, doesn't he look patient and happy??  Absolutely NOTHING to do with the BYU football game pumping through the earphone in his other ear. 

I don't know why but my favorite time of the day is when the sun sets and those crazy park lights come on.  I just love it.  It makes me feel tingly and excited.

Or maybe it's the youthful adventure, the drop of my stomach on so many rides, or the sheer joy of running amuck with my children.  No matter, tingly excitement sums it up for all of us.

Thanks for the free ride, public library!