I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Recently my family and I packed the car and headed to North Carolina for a belated Christmas visit with David’s mother and extended family. The travel time varies, depending on how many stops we make and how much time we take at each stop. As our children are older now, we find that we can usually make the almost 300 mile trip with one stop for gas and a quick bathroom break. My husband purchased a GPS just before Christmas so we decided to see if we could find a better route. Much to our surprise, “Tom Tom” found us a shorter, quicker route. Go figure. We’ve been making this trip for almost 23 years and one would think we would know all the possible routes to reach our destination. Apparently, we were wrong.
Since we were travelling new roads, I decided to pay close attention on the way home to the scenery. My husband thinks I’m being nosey, I call it being observant. I stuck the ear buds in my ears, cranked up the music on my ipad and watched rural North Carolina pass by. One thing I quickly discovered is that North Carolina is flat. While growing up in Virginia and spending four years in North Georgia, I am used to mountains. What I realized is that I wasn’t going to see any mountains on this trek through the Tar Heel state. What I did see was lots and lots of harvested cotton and tobacco fields. I also noticed that the soil is much darker than the red clay we have in Virginia and further south.
As I stared out into the wide open space and barren fields, I saw that on or near most every harvested field or farm were rundown buildings. When our kids were young we used to play road games. We used to count how many Wal-Mart trucks we would see on the highway, or how many red cars we passed, etc.; whatever we could do to make the time pass and keep them from asking “are we there yet?” But on this particular day, my son had his nosed buried in his Nintendo DS and my daughter had drifted off to dreamland so there was no need to play any guessing games. I turned off the music and began to point out different buildings to my husband and asked him what he thought each building was used for. Sometimes it was quite obvious that it was a tobacco barn, storage barn or a house. Sometimes, the buildings were so dilapidated we could not tell.
With the Carolina country zipping by I started to think about how many years some of those buildings had been standing there. Who lived in those rundown dilapidated homes? Where are they now? By this time my husband and I were playing guessing games of our own. As we passed one rather large house with a big front porch we talked about the children that probably played on that front porch. We envisioned an old dog tied out front and maybe even an old tire swing hanging from a tree. “At one point in time, that was a new home” my husband reminded me. But now that home and so many others are in ruins and nobody lives there. Where did everyone go?
All of this got me thinking about my own childhood home. I grew up on a poultry farm in an old farm house in rural Virginia. We had three bedrooms and one bathroom. Yes, there were five of us and only one bathroom. There was no air conditioning and only heat on the main floor. My bedroom was upstairs so in the winter it was cold and of course, the summer was hot. There were two bedrooms upstairs. I had my own room and my brothers shared a room. Our house wasn’t fancy, but it was ours, and we were proud and worked hard to keep everything in good working order. There was always a “honey do” list containing items that needed fixing, repaired or remodeled. We spent close to 20 years in that old house. I was three and a half when we moved in and almost 21 when we moved out. Eleven months later I married my husband. My entire childhood was spent there. There were so many memories shared in that old house. I learned to ride my first bike, drive my first car, went on my first date, and got engaged to be married all while living in that old house. The weeping willow tree in the yard was a fun place to play and the two huge maple trees brought us shade in the hot summer afternoon. The tin roof played a sweet melody when the rain drops would fall outside my bedroom window. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still smell the honeysuckle floating on the summer breeze blowing through my open bedroom window at night.
As the years passed by I decided to drive by my old home and see what it was like. I had hoped to take a pleasant trip down memory lane. Well, I drove down memory lane, but the trip was not what I had expected. Our home, the one we left was no longer there. The building was there, but the new folks had let it fall apart. The flower beds were overrun with weeds, the yard was a mess and the back porch was piled high with “stuff”. My heart ached when I saw what had happened to our home. How could anyone do that to our house? My daughter was around five years old when we made that trip and like many young children held nothing back when she loudly exclaimed “YOU LIVED IN THAT?” We tried to explain to her that it didn’t look like that when we lived there, but that is a difficult concept for such a young child. We pulled away and have not been back since. I doubt we ever will.
So while driving through Carolina country and trying to picture in our mind’s eye what those old buildings looked like in their early years and who or what occupied them, I realized that like my old home, it’s just a building. Even though we lived in that house for all those years, it was just a house. We moved what mattered most. Yes, we moved our “stuff”, but most importantly, we moved our lives, our memories, and our home. I used to feel guilty that we moved several times throughout our children’s lives thinking they would not have “roots”. But after our little trip, one thing is perfectly clear. My children’s roots are planted within us along with our memories. So for me, going home doesn’t mean going back to that little farm house in the valley, it means taking a walk down memory lane and sharing those memories with the ones who helped make those memories. For me, home is where we hang our hat; lay down our head and where we keep our heart.