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Going Home

Kicking off Small Moments Mondays, a series of guest posts focusing on the little moments in life, the moments that can be so easily taken for granted if we don’t slow down to savor them, is Kris from Pretty All True.

If you’re really lucky, you meet a handful of people in life with whom you feel an immediate connection.  These people are a gift, whether it’s because they make you feel comfortable, encourage you to stretch yourself, help you to laugh, or offer you tremendous kindness that simply envelopes you.  Kris embodies all of these qualities and I can’t believe my good fortune for having met her.

One of the things that I admire most about Kris is the way that she fully embraces each moment of life.  Perhaps as a result of a childhood that offered her far more than her share of heartache or because of the beautiful little family that she has built, Kris savors life in a way that I truly admire.  When I was in the early stages of brainstorming this idea, she immediately came to mind, as she, though sarcastic and quick witted, appreciates the beauty in her life.

Though the first thing I noticed about Kris was her amazing sense of humor and her ability to tell stories that pull you in and make you feel as though you are somehow a part her world, she has a quiet tenderness and ability to make you feel as though you are important and loved that continually surprise me.

Thank you, Kris—for guest posting, for sharing your story, and for being my friend.  I am grateful for you.

Here’s her reflection on a small moment from her life…

Going Home – by Kris

Some of my saddest memories from childhood are of going home.

My home was broken and jagged and filled with sharp shattered bits of unexpected pain and sorrow. It was my reality. And most of the time? There was just acceptance.

And so, at the end of the school day . . . at the end of a trip to the grocery store . . . at the end of a trip to the library . . . I would just go home. There was sadness and fear, but also a sense of inevitability. Resignation. This was my life. This was my family. This was my home.

I would go home.

There were a few times in my childhood when I left our home for more than just a day. It didn’t matter where I had gone . . . the contrast between this other place and my home sometimes seemed more than I could bear. My heart would ache with longing for this other that I could not have.

Then, always, there was a going home.

And as I stared out of the window on the journey back home? My throat would clench so that I couldn’t breathe. The pain was so tight and jagged it felt as though I was swallowing glass. The increasingly familiar landmarks would blur before my eyes.

Going home.

Sigh.

A long time ago.

Today? I drove my daughters to a nearby state park and we rode our bicycles through the luscious humid green. Rode until we were exhausted and sweaty . . . in an enormous loop back to where we had parked the car.

Climbed in.

“Daddy’s making lunch for us, right?” asks my older daughter as she clicks her seatbelt.

My younger daughter answers happily, “Yes! He said he was going to make hamburgers on the grill!”

I start the car. I crank the air conditioning. I switch on the radio.

I drive down the tree-lined path out of the park.

We haven’t lived in Oregon very long, and I still get confused about directions. So I sit at the park exit, trying to remember if I am supposed to turn to the right or the left. Honestly? I have no idea. Everywhere I look, everything is just green.

Hmmmmm.

The GPS in our car? I love it. My favorite thing? There is this helpful touch-screen prompt, and when you select it? The car will give you directions home from wherever you happen to be at that moment.

And so I push it. The little prompt that says GO HOME.

I love going home. Every single time.

And that GO HOME prompt. It makes me smile. Every single time.

So I turn to the right.

“Ready for lunch, girls?”

“Yes!” My daughters yell in unison, “Let’s go home!”

It’s a small thing, really . . . it’s just going home.

But for me? Every single time?

I love to go home.

Stop by and visit Kris at Pretty All True.  Take some time to poke around, read a little of this and a little of that, and wait, some of this too.

Sprinkled in here, and here, and there are posts that take your breath away and stay with you, challenging you to truly think and appreciate life.

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Memories of Childhood and Home

It could have been thirty years ago, it could have been yesterday, the memories are that vivid. 

You walked in the front door and to the right sat the living room.  The carpeting, red and black shag rug.  The furniture, black leather.  This is where I watched Gilligan’s Island reruns, waited for Santa every year, and where my mother would play Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Suzie Q” and dance with me for hours. 

You moved through the living room and entered the dining room, where we gathered to celebrate birthdays every year.  We would eat cake that was always beautifully decorated by my mother, in the shape of a roller skate one year, of Holly Hobbie in another.  We would have ice cream–it came in a box and was sliced with a knife, and was always Neapolitan–stripes of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.  (Do they even make that anymore?) 

Eventually, you found yourself in a kitchen bathed in the warmest sunlight, sunlight that made my mother’s hazel eyes sparkle, the flecks of gold just glorious.  The sun shone through the windows and across the kitchen table, where I ate bowls of chicken and stars soup, mountains of grilled cheese sandwiches, and piles of warm peanut butter chip cookies.  There was a television in our kitchen, where I watched episodes of The Donny and Marie Show and Sonny and Cher, by myself,  in the dark and in complete bliss.  (The flickering light of the television in otherwise darkness still transports me back to these nights.)

As you left the kitchen, you moved through the dining room and faced the staircase leading upstairs to our bedrooms.  If you passed my mother’s bedroom, you walked directly into mine, a room furnished with a  white canopy bed with butterfly bedding and matching bureaus.  It was here that I hosted annual slumber parties–parties where we would whisper about Shawn Cassidy and have dance competitions.  Many hours were spent here playing house and giggling with friends.

Outside was a large yard, perfect for making mud pies, watching a parade go by, and playing freeze tag.  Summer days were spent mixing dandelion petals into mud and offering them up to my mother for lunch.  We ran in the sprinkler, the water from the hose just cold enough to make us squeal with equal parts delight and discomfort.  We manned our lemonade stand (how lucky we were to live in a time when people still bought lemonade from children selling it).  In the fall, we would rake up all of the leaves and jump in our piles for hours.  I can still recall the smell of the decaying leaves, the joy I had jumping in them, and the discomfort of having the broken leaf bits inside of my clothing.    The winter brought so much snow that we could dig and make forts tall enough to stand inside.  We built seats and huddled together for warmth. 

This house sat directly across from a Catholic church and if I sit still, I can still hear the sounds of the church bells that rang out each Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  If you were quiet enough and the breeze was just right, you could hear the parishioners singing the hopeful hymns in beautiful unison, their voices spilling out through the open front doors. 

This was my childhood home.  This is the home where my mother raised me for the first decade of my life.  This is the home that I will always conjure up if you ask me to describe where I grew up.  This is the home in which I was happiest. 

I’ve always missed this house.  If you asked me why, I’m not entirely sure what I would say. 

Was it the house itself?  Unlikely. 

Was it the neighborhood?  I don’t think so.  

Perhaps it was more a combination of things.  It was not just playing outside, but knowing that my mother was inside making cocoa, the kind with those tiny little marshmallows that always melted just before you could actually feel them on your tongue.  It wasn’t just watching tv in the kitchen, but knowing that my mother was in the other room, waiting to tuck me in and tell me just how much she loved me. 

As I watch our children in our home, I wonder what they will remember.  Will they be able to recall the smells of rosemary or cilantro or pancakes that came from our kitchen?  Will they hear a Dave Matthews or Keith Urban song and be transported back to our living room, to hours spent dancing and laughing?  Will they see a Giant’s game on television and remember lazy weekend days, spent in our living room watching them play on television?  Will they see  and smell gardenias and remember how they grew just outside our back door? 

Will they combine these tangible things with the intangible, the love we have for them, the love that we have for each other, and combine them into a full and beautiful memory? 

I pray that we are giving them the ingredients for these memories.  I pray for happy childhoods for our babies.

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