friday started with me standing outside of the station, shaking hands, fumbling to call jimmy, "they wouldn't let me on the train," i cried, swearing off tears. frustrated and heartbroken, anxious to see my family.
you see, friday was my father's fiftieth birthday for which i donned a harley shirt and made him a nine foot long tee shirt quilt. and home is cuba, illinois, a tiny town in which i ran away from, car packed, and eyes wild at eighteen and never returned to after twenty-one. cuba, a place that causes me internal conflict even as a i type this. so he skipped his internship at the newberry library, stopping by to shoot off an email as i watched a man drop his drawers in the middle of clark street, and we headed down highway 55 as jimmy dozed deliciously next to me. around bloomington we changed positions, my feet propped on the dashboard and him faultlessly setting the cruise control.
and it happens like it always does. long after 74 fades away and 24 snakes its way past buildings and smooths itself along cornfields and marshes, time unnoticeably slow, slow, slows down until i'm wondering when it was that i began holding my breath. warm weather and country side is religious at most and defines my spirituality. creeping from one dot of a town to the next, i rolled down the window and asked jimmy to breath. "that smell," i told him, "is my childhood. the dirt, the earth, the warm air around us. i'm home."
the weekend was filled with too much fast food as if my family only knows how to feed and endless thrift stores where in my mom and i barely speak, but rather move on auto pilot. professionals we are, a dance been practiced before. bags and bags filling our trunk, "more shirts for more bags," declares my mom, a woman who at forty six is exactly the same and nothing like how i left her. i have expected this place to pause, as if i walk out of the city limits and push the OFF button. i know that lives circulate without my grand direction, but i'm disappointed that i can effortlessly slip back into the same old routine.
myself, i am not the same. i drove away in a tiny ford ranger, an arrogant god with great, right answers tucked in my pocket. in my elaborate escape i boldy constructed my refusal to return, huge cinder blocks barracading my naive self from the fears of mediocrity, the worry that i wanted to stay, and the damned determination to become something better than anything i knew. i've kept that cement wall in tact for many years now and the refusal to return still manifests itself in my bi-yearly visits which are too sparsely planned, evident even to me.
however, pulling into a muddy driveway reminds me of the part of myself that i keep just below surface level, the little bitty girl, scavenging for treasures around the neighborhood as soon as the first ice melted. a maker of clubs, and tree forts, and an elaborate entrepreneur of eight years old, even now as i'm nearing my twenty fourth year, the organic beckons to me. i'm a homemaker and i want to be a homemaker, with a house of my very own. at fifteen, a notebook tucked under my geometry homework, i drew large, elaborate farm houses where i planned to plant a huge garden, wear flowery aprons, and drink lemonade on wrap-around porches. i nearly laugh to remember the huge breakfasts i swore i'd make, school lunches, and walking my children to the bus stop, tire swings, and fire places.
there are no more notebooks, but every now and then, often when i'm growing hardened with city life, when i realize that accumulation dictates my life, i long to run back home, purchase a one hundred year old, two story home where i would paint the walls green and open every window. i dream of quitting my job, doing yoga in the morning, and sewing all afternoon. evenings spent with my parents, porch swings and fireflies. having babies that i'd tuck into bed at night. i'd fill my home with wonderfully retro items, handmade quilts, and grateful dead vinyls. candles would burn in every room as i clean off my freshly picked vegetables, cultivating the excess into a small compost bin. jimmy would drive 15-25 minutes to teach college courses and i would smile at the post office clerk each day as i ship off my handmade totes. my soul would be in constant renewal.
these days, as i pull into a one hundred dollar a month parking spot and lock every latch behind me, i remember that i'm happy hiding in this big city life and remind myself that the longing happens when too much time has passed between visits. i vow to go home more often.