home is where your heart is...

It was a photo I remembered, found in a old album of my Mom's, from the early 1960s, fading colors, depicting the house I grew up in, my mom, my brother and me... happy and smiling for the camera, with a touch of chill in the air [I think it was fall], my cat sitting patiently at my feet. My dad was laughing as he took the picture! A perfect Kodak moment if ever there was one. I have carried this photo in my heart ever since. Last week, during a purgative and highly therapeutic session of getting rid of old papers and stuff accumulated during the last 10 30 years or so, I found the photo.

Here it is...

Okay! this was an astounding discovery. Yes, it is a photo of my mom, brother and me. But aside from those facts, I had completely misremembered it. It’s summer, I'm not smiling [neither is anyone else] you can only see a small corner of the house, and cat? what cat? Still, I love this photo. I have long been fascinated by the way memory distorts itself, rewrites history~is in fact a kind of art in and unto itself, the amazing way your mind can create it's own fish tales. But really, this helped to hit it home for me. When I found the picture, I almost didn’t believe it could be the same one that propelled such vivid memories, you've been there, right? I marvel at my ability to take a memory, make it into what I need, what I remember from a past experience. This obviously is the exact kind of rabbit hole you want to avoid falling into when skipping down memory lane. Geez, I'd even remembered the flowered dress my mom was wearing.

The plan was to drive by s-l-o-w-l-y then get the heck out of Dodge! I took mom with me. We weren't counting on the rush of emotions. The avalanche of memories. the heart-aching-breath-taking-away-intensity of just being in a place that makes your heart hurt. Of hearing our house calling to us....pssst! come talk to me! Maybe not quite, but you know. How could the house we remember so lovingly and in such detail, be so silent. Look so unhappy and unloved. Did it miss us as much as we missed it? As we sat in the car staring out of the window I watched the ghost of my six year old self doing cart wheels across the lawn, yelling to no one in particular "watch me"! "take my picture! [Yep, I was bossy even then]. When we were kids we played outside from morning till dusk, wild and untethered as if we'd been raised by wolves. It does not take much to bring back old memories when you are sitting in front of the house where you lived when you started kindergarten. when your grandma died. where you had your first crush on the boy across the street. where you had seven birthdays! and Christmas's. Your first sleep over and boy/girl party [not at the same time!]. when the street you lived on with all of your friends was your entire world.

as we sat there, crying, remembering...every sentence we spoke to each other began with "oh, I remember when...." or "that's where we used to...".

I looked at the cement driveway my parents poured together, even all these years later, not one crack! At the garage with the attached deck that my dad built by himself. At the yard and flower beds that once were my mom's pride and joy, now over grown and unkempt [this made her cry just a bit].  I was tempted to knock on the door and ask for a tour, after all, this was my house first, but after the disappointment of seeing the outside, I wanted the inside to stay as I remembered it, my pink attic bedroom just the way I left it. Everywhere I looked I saw another version of the girl I was while living in that house...five years old walking to my first day of kindergarten, going door to door on Halloween in my princess costume, posing for Easter photos on the porch, doing homework on the kitchen table, learning to ride a bike....I was twelve when we moved~

What is it, I wonder, that I'm missing? That I am searching for? The perfect fusion of childhood and adulthood, of home and travel, of companionship and solitude. Certainly I now realize that life is not perfect, and this revelation has created a simple fear in me. The fear of losing that which I love. The people that are my heart. While I am pretty confident in my ability to deal with failure, disappointments and being less than perfect, my longing to be among the people and places I love is my true desire. It could be that the idealistic childhood I remember may indeed not have been so...well, idealistic. life is so very nostalgic, so bittersweet. moving on, moving forward brings the realization that we are only given moments in time to embrace it all. that in order to be happy, we must find a way to weave the threads of the past and the present into a fabric that can stand the test of time.

My sentimental self, has always embraced the challenge to create a loving home, as well as an inner sanctuary  for my spirit. I believe I have been successful in following through with my intentions, even if it was impossible to guard all the secrets. curiosity-induced frenzies aside, I have made every effort to discover what lays hidden within and embrace it.......

It is a curious thing how some memories have a way of settling, growing roots then sticking around for the entire span of one's life, while others pop in and out and some are gone as soon as they happen. in the distance I hear the sound of children laughing and I feel at peace. Driving home, I am thinking, as i always do, of you. 

This is where you might expect me to write about how I lovingly follow all of my mom's recipes, carefully preserved on well worn, dog eared index cards which I've cherished for years. Well, the sentimental stuff stops here. I don't have very many of my mom's recipes written down. I've never even seen more than a handful on paper. Frankly, I  doubt she wrote most of them down. She liked to cook as she did everything else, from the heart.

Best Waffles (ever) from King Arthur Flour
(go here for recipe)



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