Thursday, March 15, 2007
Home is Where the Heart Is
The wooden plaque hangs in the kitchen. This isn’t the first kitchen nor the last that this treasure has known or will know. When older son Jeff was in the fourth grade and I was a room mother, his teacher gave it to me for Christmas. Six kitchens. Six states. 20 years. The sentiment has pretty much become my philosophy. Home is where you hang your heart.
The first home for the plaque was a rented Dutch colonial house in Webster Groves, Missouri. Next, it traveled with us to the first home we bought just at the end of the bust in Houston, Texas. Then, a short stay in a house in Appleton, Wisconsin that was a perfect Prairie-style home overlooking the Fox River. The Mariemont, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, home was steps away from U.S. Highway 50 but backed up to a forest preserve of sorts. Back to Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the little Cape Cod on East Road and finally (well never finally) Lexington Road in Montgomery, Alabama.
When we landed back in Alabama, it was a homecoming for Bill and me. He grew up in Birmingham in between cross-country moves to Southern California. Once my dad got out of the Air Force, we settled in his native Alabama and I stayed until I graduated law school in 1979.
The South I now find myself preparing to leave again after just getting reacquainted will always be the one place I consider home above all others. It’s the place I feel I belong, understand as much as anyone can, and appreciate. I love the fried green tomatoes, cotton fields, football on fall Saturdays, ramshackled-kudzu-covered barns where green disguises rot and decay. Rolling pine graced hills, hawks and redbirds.
And yet there is a part of my beloved South that is still hard for me to accept. I understand them but have little use for the diehards who cling to tired attitudes about race like toddlers holding onto security blankets dirty and long past the time their mommas should have washed them and put them away as mere keepsakes. I won’t miss them.