I go home to remember who I was and where I came from. To see who I am now and who I want to be. Home connects me to the memories that have made me. It's not just my dad watching The Price Is Right or the feel of my Meme's cold and soft little hands grabbing mine. It's those things and everything. The older I become and the farther away I live, going home hits me harder. When I am in the midst of something, I start to forget the details. I look past certain trees and ponds. The food tastes familiar. The sounds and smells of life are simply that, just life. When I leave and return again and again, older and changed, things start to seem new and oddly familiar at the same time.
When I was in middle school and my parents separated, my dad went to live with his mom for awhile, my Meme. She still lives in the same trailer on my Uncle Donny's land. Their property is out in the country between my childhood hometown of less than two thousand and the "big city" of Saint Joseph, Missouri. I remember vivid memories of going to my Meme's to spend weekends with my dad. There was no television, besides a couple of news stations that came in through a handmade antenna. No one had a smart phone, and Meme has never had a computer. So I walked the cornfields after they had been harvested. There were acres and acres behind her house. The lower part of the corn stalks still remained, and they left little rows and paths perfect for following to no where. I would walk alone for a couple of hours at a time. Sometimes wearing an old cotton sweatshirt of my Meme's if it was colder than I had packed for. I would walk around, trying to figure out life. For the time, I was all alone in the huge and quiet field. The drama of every day couldn't reach me. I might be able to hear my name shouted from the porch, but nothing else. No troubles or fighting, just the Earth and God and little ninety eight pound me, covered up in Meme's powder blue sweatshirt.
I always said I wanted to get out of country. Out of nowhere and find somewhere. I knew I would leave Missouri, although college didn't get me too far. Just living in another small town in Arkansas, but it was a little bit bigger and there were more than sixty people in my graduating class. About seven years after leaving my home, married and with a baby, I realized I wanted to live on a bohemian farm. What exactly is a bohemian farm? I think its actually a mixture of my imagination, my childhood, and what I want in the future. Its a simple life, where there is enough air and land to walk and think and breathe deep. It is kind of like Meme's house, but in my head it doesn't have the sad parts. It has a laundry line and a huge garden. Andrew has built a cellar where our winter squash and canned jams rest. My kids play outside as much as possible, building forts and playing make-believe. They are young and free and careless in the best ways. Our house is small but we have a lot of land so it doesn't matter. The sky is bigger than my childhood, because we live in Texas. Its hot but we have lots of trees. The trees bear apples and pears. The Bohemian Farm is simple but rather magical. The furniture is older, mostly vintage, but isn't anything special to the average stranger. There are books and art supplies scattered about. Dishes to be done. Happiness and messes.
I think it is important to always have dreams. Even if my dreams seem a little ambitious or too picture perfect. Because in my mind my dreams of a Bohemian Farm are bits and pieces of what I already have, the things I long for, and the happiness of my childhood. It may have been this trip home that I realized that my childhood has stuck with me more than I had realized. That my grand adventures and hopes for the future are tangled up in what I have already lived.
When I took Blanche out to Meme's house the sun was warm and the air was crisp. It felt like fall. We had ham and beans and cornbread. And Meme seemed to prove some of my thoughts on the evilness of the microwave and its ability to cause cancer by microwaving cornbread on styrofoam plates. Meme is Eighty. And she has never had cancer. Maybe its all the fresh air and organic vegetables that grow fifty feet from her front door. She made coffee and apple crisp. I am sure the apples were from down the road. Uncle Donny gave me fresh raspberries from his garden while I took pictures. They were little bursts of sun candy. If such a thing exists. Everyone was happy. Blanche swung on porch swing with Meme, and we could see the cows heading to the pond across the road. The sad memories of my childhood didn't seem to have taken place here. I think if I wasn't in charge of a toddler and getting her down for a nap, I may have just stayed outside all day. I would have laid out an old afghan of Meme's and written in my journal and read a book. There was still no television or internet. My family's property seemed to be there solely for enjoyment that day.