In a few short hours, I’ll be making the drive home to Mississippi. I should be asleep now, but we all know how that works for me I am tired. I’ve been tired for awhile. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to not be tired. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that it is not tomorrow as I’m journeying home. I doubt it will be. Afterall, I have 2, 5-hour energy drinks in my purse, and I’m sure there will be coffee along the way to help fuel my resolve.
It has been a trying weekend. There is truth to the saying that you can’t go home again. Those places I called home when they were my home are no longer. They have long-since passed into the hands of others or been reclaimed by nature, erased from existence. If I wanted to, I couldn’t go to them in times of need and find comfort or shelter because the people who provided those things no longer reside there. There is no where left to go.
For the longest time, I made a pilgrimage of sorts…past each of those places that had provided a moment of peace or love or disturbance as the case might have been. I had to make the loop through Billings and then I had to travel backroads, passing landmarks that changed with the season or with each successive storm. I wound through Aurora, down to Hurley, back through Clever, on past Marionville. Each time stopping, even if just for the briefest moments as I drove back, and looking for some small piece of what I remembered. With each trip, those things faded more and more.
It’s been a long time since I felt the need to make those literal trips down memory lane. There is nothing left. Everything has vanished. Or at least the important things have vanished. The people who made those places alive–safe, raucous, menacing–are long gone from them. And as the people fade away from those places, the places lose their power. It means nothing to drive by Great Grandma’s house because it is not her house. There’s a winding drive up what was the front lawn. Everything has changed. Every piece of her erased. She is not there, so I do not need to go by, hoping for the glimpse of her shadow, remaining like the ash after a fire.
There is a tug now and again. In that trip before my wedding, I wanted to ride by my grandparents’ old house. See the chainlink fence protecting the old swingset and fleetingly hope that I could see him there behind the curtains of the big front window, seated as his desk, thick arthritic scarred fingers sticking at the corner of a page before turning it, rhumy eyes glancing over old articles about bowhunting, hair disheveled, a razor’s nick on his cheek, waiting for me to come through the door so he could turn and say, “Jenabear! Oh I’ve missed you, my little gal!”
OK. I miss him. Perhaps that’s what this post should have really been about. My grandma has been gone for how many years now? August of 2000. That means in November of this year it will be 10 years. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone that long. All those things that I wanted him (and I suppose her, but I always loved him more) to be there for, to be proud of me for, he has missed.
I miss him.
Through the shadows, I can catch him but he slips through my fingers like sand. I don’t hear his voice so well anymore, his image is hazy. He drifts further away from me.
And today as I said goodbye to my grandSner, I realized that soon she will be the same. She is not gone yet. I can still touch her, hold her now and again. Pick up the phone and hear her voice, even though I do it so seldomly. One day, though, she will be like my strong grandpa…out of reach.
And when she is gone, there will be very little to call me back here. Extended family and a few friends. People I love. But none of the places that nurtured and grew me. They will have been wiped erased from the maps, their memories like the impressions of erased words, the pages gradually returning to their original state, a touch barely able to detect there was ever something more there.