Monday, February 21, 2011

Home Again

We returned last night from a weekend spent at home in Ohio. My family’s house isn’t among my 27 total. The longest I lived there was one week at Christmas the year my brother died. And again another week sometime the summer after, still looking for reasons and a connection to home.

Built while I was away at college, that house never included a room for me.

No, my room is gone. The bedroom I occupied for more years than any other – from 6th grade through 12th – actually still stands, but a stranger inhabits it now. House #16 belongs to a family I do not know (uncommon in Anna, Ohio), but I drive past it every trip to Ohio and look up at that window on the second floor and wonder if its new occupant has taped magazine photos of movie stars all over the closet door, as I did. I wonder if he or she has replaced the mauve carpet I so proudly chose when we built the house in 1989. Please, God. I sure hope so.

Nowhere is there a room that still holds my trophies and framed high school snapshots, dried prom corsages and boxes of love notes. I carried most of those things with me from homes 17 to 26, where they drowned in the basement during the flood of May 2010.

Back to the weekend. It was good. Filled with an uncommon sense of nostalgia. I went back in time, cheering in the stands at two high school basketball games. I clapped along to the Anna Rockets’ fight song. I still know every word. I could likely still do a good bit of the 1995 cheer routine, minus the short pleated green and white skirt. 

I drank beer at a local bar and shopped with girlfriends. I stayed in my pajamas until almost noon and ate biscuits and gravy and a jelly donut for Sunday breakfast. 

It felt much like a regular weekend of nearly two decades ago. Siblings lounging all around me, sisters giggling and little brother watching basketball on TV. Just one brother missing. I felt Matthew’s absence, as I always do.

But it still felt like home. Even if I was sleeping in my sister’s bed with my husband in the matching twin bed across the room and my son on a pallet on the floor beside me.

It felt comfortable and easy. Much different than our current living situation. I didn’t want to leave. Nor did Matt (he stalled) or Beckett (he cried - photos below might suggest many of the reasons he wanted to stay). 

But we did leave. We drove the long familiar road from Anna to Nashville, singing all the way with Huey Lewis and Chicago and Arcade Fire and The National. We ate Goo Goo Clusters. We napped.  We made it home safely, and we slept well, the three of us in one small room together.

And as always, we were just happy to wake up with one another. In a few short (or long?) weeks, our house will be complete. We will have rooms of our own once more. We will have our own beds back. And we will have a stove on which I can attempt to recreate Mom’s Sunday breakfast.

And so the countdown continues and, until the big day, I’ll wish I could be closer to my Ohio home-that-is-home-even-if-it-never-really-was. In fact, I’ll wish we could just stay there for the next several weeks. That we could go to my little brother’s tournament basketball game on Saturday night and have some drinks with friends after. I’ll wish we could spend our Sunday mornings gathered ‘round the family table. 

And that it wasn’t all so far away.


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