Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Road Home

This is a random, short conversation between a friend and I a few days ago, after she came in to help take care of GrandScrew, who is currently in rehab at The Carrington:

One day I want you to tell me what it is like to stay in the same city all your life

I can tell you what it's like now
for me
it's secure
and it's like a relationship
I get homesick no matter where I go
it's comforting and a little sad

It's just like that. 

The question made me feel sorry for her. It's the way you feel sorry for someone who, even if they were disadvantaged, would roll their eyes if you knew they felt sorry for them. 

I've been traveling up and down 29N since I was a child and I'm the youngest in my family so I may as well have been five years old yesterday, squished up behind my mom in her black and silver Baja, reminiscing about how bad my motion sickness was when I was a kid. I remember driving back from visiting family in Waynesboro, in my red and white Disney World baseball jacket, short dark hair, miserable and wanting to make it home to vomit. I didn't make it home. Poor Mom.

I've seen the same cows and curves and the skeleton face in the mountain by Lovingston and ice cream cone stand in Colleen since I was a little girl. We've changed and stayed the same and so has 29N. The road home is there for me monogamously, the foundation unwavering--the new signs and detours unavoidable with progress and time. 

My grandmother reminds me of that as she asks if her sister is still alive. Mom reminds her that Aunt Monk has passed away and Grandma asks when did it happen and I offer without hesitation that it was 2001 and I recall that we stopped at the Colleen Drive-In on the way back from the funeral in Waynesboro. And now we are traveling to see my Aunt Virginia who will soon pass away and I decide that perhaps I have not traveled 29N as often as I should've. 

Grandma comments that the countryside is so beautiful. Mom agrees that the state of Virginia is beautiful. I correct Mom to advise her that Virginia is a Commonwealth and then I silently decided it might be a good idea if, upon correcting someone else in the future, I knew what makes a Commonwealth different than a state.

 My great grandma died when I was six. The last thing she ever said to me was,"What church do you go to?" and that's what my own grandma asks strangers whenever she goes to the Goodwill or Belk to bargain hunt and if they engage her long enough, she might tell them how she got saved. 

"Can we go by great grandma's old house in Fishersville?" I never knew great grandma's old house but I've seen black and white pictures. It's not there any more, but the alley is still there and a new house sits by the dying tree that volunteered as a backdrop for my Uncle Leroy and Aunt Martha as they grew up in Augusta County. 

Sometimes grief and loss and the expectation of all things related to both gets stirred up with sensations convertible with romance and the reward of gratitude for being connected with permanence is humbling. It's in the road and the earth, in the fir tree that watches children, sheds needles, and draws it's own last breath as the last of the Shenandoah rain travels through it's veins.

We turn by the sign that used to advertise Walton Mountain Store. It's blank and the store is abandoned. Grandma asks who we're going to see.

I remind her we're going to see Virginia. 

I think of my aunt and I consider my Commonwealth and most of all, I internalize the road home. And it's all so comforting and a little sad.

Tell me, where is the road
I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost
So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There’s a way, there’s a road
That will lead me home?


After wind, after rain,
When the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream
In the gold of day,
Through the air there’s a calling
From far away,

 There’s a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.


Rise up, follow me,
Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home.

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