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.


Marion said...

This post brought tears to my eyes, Sheila...I can feel your sadness at leaving the South of your heart behind, once again.

"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." That's really good writing, in my opinion!

Perhaps, when you return, those blankets will have torn once too often, relegating at least some into the garbage.

Sheila said...

Yes, Marion, I do have a sadness about having to leave Alabama again. Yet, one of the lessons I have learned from the moves is that with the right attitude, dare I say spirit of adventure, moving can be a good thing. I need roots but I have grown accustomed to putting down new ones quicker as I have gotten older and more experienced in the process. A part of me envies the large extended families who live close to each other and who help each other out with babysitting and life issues.

I'll grouse and moan about having to find the best grocery store or cleaners. There's the finding good medical care that I didn't once have to worry so much about. But I have this wonderful sense of adventure and possibility. It's as if I have grieved a little, gotten beyond that, and am now ready to jump into whatever comes my way.

Jay Croft said...

I appreciated this entry, especially the final paragraph. Thank you.

Jay "at this very moment wearing his 'Civil Rights, the march continues' T shirt his daughter bought him at the Southern Poverty Law Center gift shop last week" Croft

Sheila said...

Jay, I do get tired of attitudes we see so often here in the South from some people who think everything is hunky-dory and that "what's wrong with those people (meaning blacks)?"

Maya Lin's fountain at the SPLC is a fitting memorial to lives lost in the struggle for civil rights. Much work remains. Hope your daughter enjoyed her visit. It was great weather for visitors from up "north."

Naomi said...

This was a great post Sheila. I'm sure you'll be sad to leave the South behind. Hopefully some attitudes will have changed for the better if you ever come back in the future. You can only live in hope.

Sheila said...

"You can only live in hope." Naomi, that's a lovely thought.

Naomi said...

Hi Sheila

I'm back again re-visiting you on this post from the Gonzo World Carnival. Even though you're moving house, I'm sure you'll leave a little part of your heart behind in the South. Home is indeed where the heart is.

Sheila said...

I'll have to go check out the Carnival, Naomi.

LJP said...

Sheila, I loved your evocative descriptions. If I close my eyes I can almost see it.


Very beautiful wooden plaque and very well described.
I'm here from the Gonzo Carnival.

Sheila said...

Thanks ljp and friday. The Gonzo Carnivals always bring new visitors.