Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unboxed Memories

As I’ve written before, I am a woman meant to travel.  In spiritual terms, it’s called being a pilgrim.  We’re all pilgrims to one degree or another.  And this week, my pilgrimage was to that elusive place called home.  Home to West Virginia.  Home to old friends.  Home to the me I used to be.  Home to family.  Home.

I don’t know about you, but most times I bring back more than I took.  This time was no exception.  I left behind wonderful garden tomatoes – I am the greengrocer of good tomatoes, carrying what I did not grow from place to place like the abundance they are.  Tomatoes left, I bring back a storehouse of thoughts and new memories – treasures that require no box for safe-keeping.

My new unboxed memory treasures include the sublimely ridiculous as well as the merely sublime –

. . . listening to Jason Isbell on Terry Gross’ Fresh Air sing his heart and rediscover music in a way I haven’t heard in a very long time.  I’m definitely adding his new album Southeastern to my playlist

. . . family will always try to make the best of your worst failed recipe experiment and even offer to eat what’s left tomorrow – that’s love

. . . learning anew that a little boy’s heart is a tender thing and a little boy’s tears will break your heart

. . . friends of long ago and far away are treasures to rediscover

. . . my presence makes a difference and so does my absence

. . . Cuban pork sandwiches are pretty tasty

. . . family really is glad to see you even when you come empty handed (but you wouldn’t want to make a habit of it – the empty-handed thing)

. . . sometimes the things your kids didn’t tell you were really important

. . . it takes our children a really long time to figure out that our choices, our mistakes, are not their fault or their burden

. . . Seamus Heaney died and I remember hearing his voice, learning his words, at a poetry reading at Princeton years ago – the one I tell where I went to a poetry reading with Toni Morrison – I never really did – she was there as was I and that was it’s own warm feeling, this rubbing air with the good-famous – and now, in the obligatory lauding, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing is read and the words, I live here too . . . scream out of the radio landing into my soul and the words reverberate around and through and in me . . . I live here too . . . this place that is war – this always-has-been-always-will-be place where so many I’s live here too . . .

. . . and so it is that Seamus and a 6-year-old-boy-of-my-blood teach me anew that some people have perspective, whether age 6 or 60, and some never do – and I know which I am and I am humbled

. . . sometimes we’re just too busy enjoying life to go to the bathroom – and that’s okay

. . . Mumford & Sons are really cool even if I have no idea who the sons are (well, there aren’t any ‘sons’, are there?  And yes, Ian Brennan, they’re privileged – I think it’s a hoot that you think that’s worth remarking – just sayin’)

. . . little boys will always follow bigger boys – and that’s mostly how it should be

. . . family is a fluid thing and always has room for just one more

. . . sadness is contagious

. . . visiting is good

. . . things change

. . . and they don’t

. . . when you’re small you always know where you are in the picture

. . . and the bombing/invasion/attack/punishment – take your pick – of Syria is the rough backdrop to it all – invading my memories, my home, and I secretly resent it, this intrusion – can’t you just recess your warring ways for just a few days, just this once?  Can’t we have a break from caring so much just this once?  – heavy in import, with the river of Jason Isobell’s voice running through it, and it is not good.

But it is – because a better tomorrow is better than a wish . . . and family and friends matter . . . and little boys still show us the way.

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