Sunday, May 29, 2011

309 Hoover Street

Staunton, Virginia. The little three bedroom, one and a half bath brick house I grew up in. A little neighborhood that branched off West Beverly Street. It backed to woods with an alley that ended in the Hecks, Kroger and Family Dollar parking lot. A full front porch with white iron trellis and a porch swing. A big maple shading the yard and keeping the grass from ever growing really well. A row of peonies separated our yard from Mrs. Wiseman's little ranch. They smelled like the perfume she wore too much of and were always full of ants, but I loved them anyway. She was the first Jewish woman I ever met. My mom said she believed everything in the Bible but the the words in red. On the other side of our house lived Millie and her husband Sam. We didn't have air conditioning and the whole house fan was bring in the cool Valley air at night and the smell of the Winston cigarettes Sam smoked on the porch after dark. Those were the days I slept on the top bunk and hid books under my pillow to read with a flashlight after I thought my sister was asleep. Millie drew her eyebrows on with a pencil and my mom told me she was sad because she saw her father kill himself when she was young, and she found his eyeball later. I grew up with grass stained feet all summer and a tent over the clothesline using mom's good sheets pinned into the ground. I grew up with orange and brown mushroom wallpaper in the eat in kitchen and lots of orange Tupperware. I love orange. I grew up with dinner on the table every night at five o'clock. My mom put on lipstick right before dad got home and would put a dab of Cachet on her neck. I grew up with homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies. I grew up dressing like Anne of Green Gables dreaming of owning a real life Gunne Saxe and not one I picked the pattern from at the Piece Goods Shop and my mom sewed at night while I slept. I knew who I was very young. I read poetry up in the branches of my favorite climbable tree and shot baskets in my regulation NBA hoop my dad bought me after several seasons of amazing UVA Cavaliers basketball. (Who can forget John Crotty?) I felt old when I turned six. I wanted the wood grain of our furniture to match. I saved up money to buy Victoria magazines and checked out design books from the adult section at the Staunton Public Library. I got a paper route and saved my money for a walnut and brass daybed, Laura Ashley chintz and college. The neighborhood deteriorated around us, but it never felt unsafe. I think maybe the rent increased in the seven years we lived there from the $300 it began at in 1981. The basement we used to ride our bikes and rollerskate in became a project and was eventually finished into a study for my dad and a family room. The Iris on the side of the house multiplied. The Zinnias tucked neatly behind the railroad ties at the back grew from seeds we planted every year sprinkled in with marigolds. I could go on and on. HOME. Not like the movies. Not a colonial with a formal living room and a dining room and a window seat and Wedgewood china in a hutch like I always dreamed of. Instead, a few white milkglass hobnail vases always full of flowers and Corelle Ware with paper napkins. Mostly sheets and towels that were a little stiff and scratchy from drying out of doors while I imagined life was going to be found in thread count and Egyptian cotton. How does a girl know about these things or long for them?

Tonight Dan and I sat on the little front porch on 35th Sreet. We have lived here three years. This home was a gift from God then and now. We had lived on Pontius only three months and before we could catch our breath a bombshell. The move to Ohio almost killed me, and I had to begin the hardest job of my life, database work from home with a six month old baby. I longed for DC and Ann Taylor suits and long lunches at Clydes. I longed to be peddling the American dream--real estate, floorplans, granite and hardwood. I wanted to be meeting with designers about model homes and not visiting horrible little rentals on the south side of Canton trying to find something we could afford on our new budget. When we walked into this sweet house we said "yes" in our hearts. We had to rest. $30,720 rent later. More tears and sleepless nights and prayers and laughing and praising and fighting and yelling and holding our breath than we ever thought we'd live. More breaking and healing than we ever hoped for. NEST. Our safe place to hide. As we sat in the evening air as we have often done on date nights before, talking about our time in this place, one thing stood out. No matter how much we idealize where we would like our children to grow up and our life to take place, God will work His miracles anywhere. We will plan our ways, but He will direct our paths. Shelter is love no matter what kind of dishes you have.

We walked to Milk and Honey in the dark after hours of talking. We held hands and laughed. We came back and slow danced to our favorite playlist. Our $200 Big Lots mattress my parents bought us when we moved here (because we had to sell almost everything we owned) is the softest place to land when you are in love. In love with life. At peace with wherever God will take us. Finally breathing out a little after holding our breath for what seems like forever. I know our kids will remember home like I do our little rental in Staunton. Wherever we are together as a family, living and loving we will be okay. HOME. On this side of Heaven we will look for manna in the morning and pitch our tent in the wilderness, and we won't forget His faithfulness. It's ENOUGH. Dayenu.

1 comment:

  1. Praying for you, you and your family go through this transition. You and Dan are FANTASTIC parents & you're right...home is wherever you are! Your girls are blessed to have such protectors for their sweet little lives. Love & hugs!