Friday, May 2, 2008

Oh, Virginia! and reflections on home

Iris overlooking the cow pasture

Grandaddy's Garden

Garden Path

"The Little House"

The Smokehouse and Irises

I didn't realize how much my soul ached for home until the airplane broke through the Atlanta clouds and with a gasp, I realized, "spring is here!" I felt alive, rejuvinated, breathless. Dazzling green trees filled my vision, the shiny, new-lime of their leaves reminding me of how the freshness after winter unfurls in expectant glory, offering promises of another year, another time. The azaleas - oh, how they remind me of growing up in North Carolina. Nothing else heralds the return of warm weather like these staples of my home state. I left Oklahoma a dreary, cold, flat land for a visit to Virginia and what a welcome I received.

I kept trying to explain my feelings to Kyle like this: because of his experiences with moving about the county, he's developed this wondrous ability to feel at home anywhere. He's quick to realize the little things about any new place that makes it particularly extraordinary - whether these things be the white sand of Pensacola beaches, prairie land in Oklahoma, toasty afternoons in Texas, or the magnificent waterways of Annapolis. He changes preferences for home like he changes clothes; merrily appreciating where he is at any given moment. He might exclaim, "I love this place! Look at this sky - nowhere else in the world has a sunset like we do in Enid!" This is a quality that I absolutely adore in my husband - his willingness and free-at-easeness to adapt himself to any environment and be happy.

And then there's me. I feel such an attachment -to my very core - to places. Environments that reinforce, through every tree, flower, road-sign, cloud-in-the-sky, that I am home: that I belong. This sense of home makes me feel the most alive, the most authentic version of myself. It creates, this sense of home, a desire and pull to return, always return, and to compare every other place with the one that I love. A connection to the land, weather, people so deep that while I may live in other places...they remain, for me, other places. Home for me is Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina...and I was recently given a chance to return home for just a little bit.

My visit to Virginia was an incredible whirlwind: a bittersweet reminder of the last time I traveled to Virginia. Before I left, I was so afraid that I would be overwhelmed by what was missing - my grandaddy. While there, I did spend much time on the back porch remembering little moments from my last trip that time has slowly started to ease and blur. Still, though, when I pulled into the driveway at Athlone, I was comforted by sights that remained the same - Grandaddy's garden waiting to be planted, the little house basking in the dusky sunlight, the cows ambling across the fields with several new-born calves, and Grandmama waiting with open arms in the kitchen. Mom and Aunt Pam came for the first several days and together we tackled "business" - a.k.a all things related to the will and probate. Amidst the business, though, we found time to talk, reminisce, discover new things on ebay, and make plans for springtime gardens (can't wait to begin one in our new Oklahoma home). There was such sweetness in being with family who you know - who you can feel - understands the depth of recent and tender loss. On Wednesday and Thursday, Grandmama and I ate lunch at Sweet Briar College and did some investigative furniture shopping. Friday, we saved time for just the two of us to visit and enjoy being together before Saturday and a trip back to Oklahoma, Kyle, and Douglass.

Although it's good to be back with my own, dear family looking forward to the exciting events in the near future, I miss Virginia, I miss all those there, I miss my home.