We pulled into the Dallas area and there was traffic even before we hit the city. Billboards lined the highway yelling at me in big letters telling me what to eat and what car to buy. Dallas has this new thing where almost every building has a light show on the outside. Neon colors flashed in my brain from all directions. Car radios from the people next to us and noise noise noise.
I tried to prepare myself for this but I guess nothing can get you ready for the shock of living on dirt backroads with not a soul in sight to the stimuli bombardment of the city.
I was overwhelmed and a little tense, then we pulled up to Mama and Daddie’s house. We parked ole’ Gertie, our trailer, outside then went to the front door. When Mama answered she proceeded to scream her lil’ head off. I meant to give her a small surprise and come home early but I guess it turned out to be a big surprise… haha.
We walked inside, wine was poured, I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. Home. I was home.
I think you need to leave. You need to get away, meet new people, travel a backroad, hike a mountain, get stressed about money and surviving, put some distance between you and what’s familiar so that when you come home you realize how much you appreciate it.
For some reason I don’t stress about too many things at Mama’s house. It’s a haven from the world, it always smells the same, flowery and clean, the sheets are soft, the food is good quality, the laughter is plenty. Who cares if we don’t have a penny to our name, I’m at Mama’s. Who cares that it’s crazy outside in the real world, I’m at Mama’s.
Mama Jean has been collecting pottery from before I was born. I look around the house at different pieces and remember past dinners, past holidays, previous living rooms, long gone friends and for some reason loser ex boyfriends. It’s interesting how stuff can carry with it so much love, so many memories, faces and places. All of that is attached to this clay vessel, this painting, this trinket.
As you know when we prepared to go on the road we got rid of pretty much all of our stuff. I would hold the item, think of the memory attached to it and then let it go. Gone in a garage sell to gain newer memories, fresh stories. I wonder how I’ll remember living on the road. I don’t have any items to attach memories to. I’ve started writing in my journal specific things about our days. Where we hiked, who we met, what the town was like. But will I ever go back to read that? I don’t know.
When I close my eyes, I think of golden fields in the Wind River Mountains. I think of swimming in crystal clear mountain lakes surrounded by snow capped peaks. I think of Islay running along the trail chasing butterflies. I think of playing games with Andrew and watching the sun set. Memories fade with time, what will I have to remind me?
You need to leave. You need to detach from a home filled with memories to realize the importance of holding on to things that matter.
I think I let go to easily. I’m always chasing the next ribbon of highway, wondering what’s around the next bend, wondering where just one more mile of trail will lead. I live in juxtapositions. I’m constantly wandering but I’ve learned the value of sitting still. Of watching the clouds shift and move across the sky. Observing a songbird dig for food in the field, fluttering from one bush to the next. Watching the light move across the mountains. For some reason this is a lot more difficult in the city. Birds are harder to hear and clouds are blocked by buildings. So I let it go, I move on, I rush through my day.
There’s something about coming home after being gone for a while. It’s a blend of familiar and distant. I’ve changed but this place has not. Mama is still my solid rock. Daddie is still my favorite sensitive, distracted, funny man. Mama is working on a new sewing project, I remember her spending hours at the machine to make me a whole new bedroom set. Daddie still eats white bread like he did as a kid and covers it with one of his 20 different jams he has hidden away in corners of the pantry. Mama still pulls her feet up on the couch and sits sideways to watch tv or chat. Daddie still eats Ovaltine with ice cream every night.
You need to leave. You need to get away and watch other people, meet new faces, start up awkward conversations to love coming home to familiar quirks and laughter and mother daughter girl talk and warm hugs that are packed with so much love that it makes your heart feel a little self conscious. Like a spotlight is on it.
There will always be a new road to travel, a new mountain to climb, a new person to meet then there’s the warmth and comfort of home. Mama always said that she raised my sister and I to have the strength to leave. What she didn’t prepare me for was the feeling of coming home.