Home


My husband and I went to our son's reading tournament last week. The kids competing in the event sat in two groups on the floor in the center of the room, leaving parents, siblings and grandparents to find seats in the student desks shoved in a tight and hazardous bunch at the room's perimeter. To my immediate left, a woman played a gambling game on her iPhone, sharp red fingernails stabbing at the screen to stop the wheels from spinning, hopefully revealing a lucky combination of cherries or apples or the number seven.

To my right and a bit forward, something much more interesting was going on: There was a man with a bushy grey beard and long silver hair spilling down his back and onto the black windbreaker he wore. The windbreaker was adorned with the name of a local boxing group and a pair of red laced-up gloves. The man wore a baseball cap and reading glasses. He held a yellow mechanical pencil in his right hand. In his left, he held a letter, tri-folded and opened and closed many times. It was written on both sides of two sheets of unlined paper in neat rows straight as the rows of peas and carrots and green beans my father marks in his garden every spring.


The man looked at his letter, stroked his beard, then added a line to his own letter, composed on a small tablet. His pencil scratched and paused. Scratched and paused, every word weighed and considered before being added to the paper. The man set the pencil down. He clapped as a student correctly responded to a question. He unfolded the letter and examined it. He picked up his pencil and pushed on the eraser to send out more lead before continuing.

I wondered about the content of those letters. I tried in vain to read them. I wondered what type of person takes the time to write a letter these days.

I miss letters: Letters contain promise and hope; love and mystery. After receiving a letter, I want to read it over and over again, savoring each word like a chocolate egg, sweet and warm, before tucking it away in a hope chest to return to later and be reminded of home.

* * *

My husband and I just bought a hundred-year-old home in a small Ohio village. We won't have the farm I'd hoped for, but we will have something we never found in this suburban development where we recently received a form letter from our association lecturing us about the quality of our faded mailbox. Instead of living in this planned community, we'll have real community where the kids still walk to school, where neighbors go out for dinner together, where the farmer delivers his produce once a week, and where people sit on the front porch watching the world go by.

As we work through the roller coaster of emotions over showings, contracts signed and withdrawn, and home inspections with four kids and two drooling dogs in the car, I feel as if we're living with one foot in the present and the other in the future, a future that will inevitably take me to my past: my Ohio roots where things seem less complicated and where life moves at a more leisurely pace.

* * *

The glass man showed up the other day to give me a quote to repair a small hole in the outer pane of a window. He wore a bushy white beard and glasses that date back to the eighties.

"Where you headed?" he asked in an English accent as he pulled a folding wooden measuring stick from his front pocket.

"Ohio," I replied.

"Oh. The Other State," he said, looking at me from over his glasses and gesturing vaguely to the west. "Why would you move there?"

"I was born there," I told him. "Grew up on forty acres."

He nodded, "You farm people are all alike." Then he laughed. "It is a beautiful state. But I can't say the name. It comes out Ho-eye-oh." He scratched some notes and scratched the head of the service dog my son is raising. "He's a good dog."

"It's his last day here," I replied. "He's going to be a service dog. But..." I gestured around the house: Its perpetual neatness. The sterility where the dog can't drool or shed or chase after tennis balls. "With the move and all..."

At that moment, the doorbell rang. The woman who would finish raising the dog before he's put into training arrived. "I feel so guilty," she said, scratching him behind his ears. "Taking him away from you."

Moving is like that. New beginnings, yes. But also the letting go of some things that we love. For my son, school friends and the pup he's raised for the past eight months. For my daughters, their part-time jobs and their friends. For my husband, his colleagues. And for me, my writers' group--a steady group of women writers who've met regularly for the past six years to critique each other's work and talk about life and books and family.

I gave the dog a final pat and watched him trot down the sidewalk without a backwards glance and I knew with a heart simultaneously heavy and light that he was going to a good place.

"Municipality get you on this?" The glass man gestured. "I had to replace a window for an old lady not too long ago. She had to put the house on the market because she couldn't afford the taxes on the house. Hairline crack. I had to call the inspector to ask where it was." He shook his head. "Fifty years in the business and I'd never seen anything like it. I just charged her for the glass."

He measured the hole in my window. "My wife and I went to Ohio once. We got out of the car and I put her on my left side. I'm deaf in that ear so she can talk as much as she wants." He grinned, eyes twinkling. "We stood on the sidewalk, studying some brochures. And two people--two different times, you understand--approached us and asked if we were lost. If we needed help. Here," he said, "people wouldn't stop to help you. They'd steal the brochures right out of your hands." He folded up his measuring stick and tucked it into his pocket before writing me a quote, slipping a piece of carbon between pages in his receipt book, so we would both have a copy.

I walked him to the door and waved goodbye. The branches of the pine trees scratched the blue sky. The daffodils were in bloom. The trees were budding and life had that beautiful feeling of newness to it and I was glad.

And I knew my family was going to a good place, too.

We're going home.

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Home

Monday, April 8, 2013

Home


My husband and I went to our son's reading tournament last week. The kids competing in the event sat in two groups on the floor in the center of the room, leaving parents, siblings and grandparents to find seats in the student desks shoved in a tight and hazardous bunch at the room's perimeter. To my immediate left, a woman played a gambling game on her iPhone, sharp red fingernails stabbing at the screen to stop the wheels from spinning, hopefully revealing a lucky combination of cherries or apples or the number seven.

To my right and a bit forward, something much more interesting was going on: There was a man with a bushy grey beard and long silver hair spilling down his back and onto the black windbreaker he wore. The windbreaker was adorned with the name of a local boxing group and a pair of red laced-up gloves. The man wore a baseball cap and reading glasses. He held a yellow mechanical pencil in his right hand. In his left, he held a letter, tri-folded and opened and closed many times. It was written on both sides of two sheets of unlined paper in neat rows straight as the rows of peas and carrots and green beans my father marks in his garden every spring.


The man looked at his letter, stroked his beard, then added a line to his own letter, composed on a small tablet. His pencil scratched and paused. Scratched and paused, every word weighed and considered before being added to the paper. The man set the pencil down. He clapped as a student correctly responded to a question. He unfolded the letter and examined it. He picked up his pencil and pushed on the eraser to send out more lead before continuing.

I wondered about the content of those letters. I tried in vain to read them. I wondered what type of person takes the time to write a letter these days.

I miss letters: Letters contain promise and hope; love and mystery. After receiving a letter, I want to read it over and over again, savoring each word like a chocolate egg, sweet and warm, before tucking it away in a hope chest to return to later and be reminded of home.

* * *

My husband and I just bought a hundred-year-old home in a small Ohio village. We won't have the farm I'd hoped for, but we will have something we never found in this suburban development where we recently received a form letter from our association lecturing us about the quality of our faded mailbox. Instead of living in this planned community, we'll have real community where the kids still walk to school, where neighbors go out for dinner together, where the farmer delivers his produce once a week, and where people sit on the front porch watching the world go by.

As we work through the roller coaster of emotions over showings, contracts signed and withdrawn, and home inspections with four kids and two drooling dogs in the car, I feel as if we're living with one foot in the present and the other in the future, a future that will inevitably take me to my past: my Ohio roots where things seem less complicated and where life moves at a more leisurely pace.

* * *

The glass man showed up the other day to give me a quote to repair a small hole in the outer pane of a window. He wore a bushy white beard and glasses that date back to the eighties.

"Where you headed?" he asked in an English accent as he pulled a folding wooden measuring stick from his front pocket.

"Ohio," I replied.

"Oh. The Other State," he said, looking at me from over his glasses and gesturing vaguely to the west. "Why would you move there?"

"I was born there," I told him. "Grew up on forty acres."

He nodded, "You farm people are all alike." Then he laughed. "It is a beautiful state. But I can't say the name. It comes out Ho-eye-oh." He scratched some notes and scratched the head of the service dog my son is raising. "He's a good dog."

"It's his last day here," I replied. "He's going to be a service dog. But..." I gestured around the house: Its perpetual neatness. The sterility where the dog can't drool or shed or chase after tennis balls. "With the move and all..."

At that moment, the doorbell rang. The woman who would finish raising the dog before he's put into training arrived. "I feel so guilty," she said, scratching him behind his ears. "Taking him away from you."

Moving is like that. New beginnings, yes. But also the letting go of some things that we love. For my son, school friends and the pup he's raised for the past eight months. For my daughters, their part-time jobs and their friends. For my husband, his colleagues. And for me, my writers' group--a steady group of women writers who've met regularly for the past six years to critique each other's work and talk about life and books and family.

I gave the dog a final pat and watched him trot down the sidewalk without a backwards glance and I knew with a heart simultaneously heavy and light that he was going to a good place.

"Municipality get you on this?" The glass man gestured. "I had to replace a window for an old lady not too long ago. She had to put the house on the market because she couldn't afford the taxes on the house. Hairline crack. I had to call the inspector to ask where it was." He shook his head. "Fifty years in the business and I'd never seen anything like it. I just charged her for the glass."

He measured the hole in my window. "My wife and I went to Ohio once. We got out of the car and I put her on my left side. I'm deaf in that ear so she can talk as much as she wants." He grinned, eyes twinkling. "We stood on the sidewalk, studying some brochures. And two people--two different times, you understand--approached us and asked if we were lost. If we needed help. Here," he said, "people wouldn't stop to help you. They'd steal the brochures right out of your hands." He folded up his measuring stick and tucked it into his pocket before writing me a quote, slipping a piece of carbon between pages in his receipt book, so we would both have a copy.

I walked him to the door and waved goodbye. The branches of the pine trees scratched the blue sky. The daffodils were in bloom. The trees were budding and life had that beautiful feeling of newness to it and I was glad.

And I knew my family was going to a good place, too.

We're going home.

Labels: ,

14 Comments:

At April 8, 2013 at 7:14 AM , Blogger Ruby Manchanda said...

Beautifully expressions.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 8:28 AM , Blogger Bee said...

What a great story, and beautifully told. Good luck with the move!

 
At April 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thank you, Ruby.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Bee! Happening soon!

 
At April 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM , Anonymous steph said...

My gosh, Kelly you write so beautifully. I'm a big fan, as you know. Great story and I wish you the best! I grew up in such a place as you describe. This makes me want to return.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 2:55 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Steph! I'm glad you liked it.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 3:34 PM , Blogger Elisabeth Kinsey said...

Wow, this is wonderfully written with all the people and musings. We're moving, too! I am glad someone else is biting the brave bullet. Hats off to you for going home.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 4:07 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! And best of luck in your upcoming move.

 
At April 8, 2013 at 5:37 PM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

I won't delve into the derivation of the word 'moving,' but it is the word that so seemed to sum up the emotional undercurrent of this post. All that letting go . . . and yet with the sense that you're going home. I especially love the line -- 'I feel as if we're living with one foot in the present and the other in the future, a future that will inevitably take me to my past.'

 
At April 9, 2013 at 9:09 PM , Blogger meagan said...

I understand the urge for going, but do you really have to leave???

 
At April 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM , Anonymous injaynesworld said...

What lovely expressions of the feelings "home" conjures up. Having been a city girl for most of my life, I moved to a small rural community in central California 20 years ago and for the first time I actually exhaled. Wouldn't live anywhere else now. Beautiful writing, Kelly.

 
At April 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Deb. We went through something very similar when we moved from Canada to our current location. That distancing...not fun.

 
At April 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Sorry!

 
At April 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Jayne! So looking forward to the move.

 

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