Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Hometown

First published in the H/R. Enjoy!

It is dusk. The time reserved for poets and writers and singers of the world. The gray of early nighttime mingles with the last of the rain. In the path of the rain stands my crabapple trees adorning the front of my house. Their petals cascade with the rain…like pink snow. Two girls walk by with umbrellas. They are telling stories and giggling as they twirl their colorful umbrellas. I smile at them through my windows on my porch. The spring leaves have come out so much this week that my writing area is half covered in bushes gone wild. I should trim them, but I haven’t the heart to take the hedge trimmer to their beauty.

I bought this house in the spring from Randy and Shannon five years ago. It was a day like this with flowers and trees blooming all over town and in their garden. They had placed a small flag in the yard along with a homemade For Sale sign. I had a realtor who just could not understand what I wanted as she helped me find The Perfect House. Finally, one day, she asked, Lou Ann, what do you want? Sometimes it is hard to put in words all that I was looking and hoping for. I simply said, A house that says welcome home when I open the door. We spent a lot of time that winter just opening doors and putting my head inside listening. When I stumbled upon this one, Randy opened the door for me…and it whispered from every corner, Welcome Home.

Before I moved in, they hosted an ice cream social in my house-to-be so that I could meet all of the neighbors. I remember shyly walking through this house that would soon be mine and wondering what name I would give it. I was already in love with it. I imagined all of my ‘things’ spread out in all the rooms. The neighbors came visiting through all the small gates in the White Picket Fence, just as they do now. It was on that moment that I named this lovely old house.

Home is where we put our shoes, our hat, our teacups, our dreams. Here is a short story of home. A few years ago I met Edith. I was helping out with some hearing testing for wellness day when she showed up to have me test her hearing. She would not take off her headscarf as her hair was in pincurls. We began chatting and she invited me to visit her on Sunday, which was Mother’s Day. She told me her house was on a hill inside the outlet mall. I found her house without any trouble, but was so ashamed that I had never noticed her house. I am supposed to notice these kinds of things. She greeted me at the door with swooping red earrings and red high heeled shoes. Her gray hair was twisted up and around her head like a crown. I brought her a carnation which she put in the house and then closed the door as we walked around her small place. There was an old rusty station wagon, dogs on chains, bones strewn around, and her pride and joy….a cardboard box of baby chickens and ducks. She handled each one with so much sweetness and love that it was as if they were her children. I looked around at all of the traffic surrounding us…no one really noticing, and I looked back at Edith. I asked her why she stayed there with all the cars bustling about her tiny farm…she answered me perfectly. Where would I go? This is my home. She told me that she and her husband had built this space together. She was right, She didn’t see the rusted station wagon or the bones. I learned two things from Edith that day. First of all, to be more observant in my life and secondly, home is where we are…where our friends meet, where we go at the end of the day…and what we fall in love with.

It is late, darkness has descended and the day is over. I close up the lap top, turn off the frayed scarlet lamp, time to close the doors and pull down the old sashes on the windows. I walk in and notice my red shoe collection…in windows, on steps, by the guitar and the piano, next to guest beds and doll collections…for there is indeed no place like home.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.