“Don’t say good-bye. Say good journey.” I chased after it climbing higher and higher into the place I most felt at home…well the place that most reminded me of the chocolate-brown robin-blue roofed house. I picked up my skirts and raced after the golden ball dropping ever so quickly in the sky. Clutching my phone with which I would capture my last night here I gazed up the dusty trails into my paradise among the wild flowers which danced and bobbed along the trails. Home–close to the blue, blue sky, home—surrounded by winding trails—home the hills which stole my heart. The black-eyed Susans batted their innocent eyes. I did not resist and scooped up several only slowing to push their stems into my tucked up French braid.
How “home” has grown in my heart, I cannot exactly say. I only know my heart is in Mexico. It is in Costa Rica. It is in the heart of the hills into which I was headed, and in the little bedroom on a little Avenue in Whittier, California. If my heart lives in those places my home does too, but it is the people of these places who have my heart. In a sense it takes two to make a home. Home is not merely defined by the square walls of a building in the same way that a church is not the only place we find our joy in God. Just as I have seen in Mexico security does not necessarily live in a home just as God does not only live in a church. If security lived in every home in Mexico why are there children living in orphanages? The same goes for every country in the world. That security of a parent so common and mundane and expected in the American homes around me.
Here I must pause and set the record straight. This blog is to bring to an end the journey I have been fortunate enough to have. It is a conclusion to one fabulous, difficult, soulful chapter of my life. Bear with me. Many reflections and are not spoken directly but the phrasing of my words speaks with a certain tone. There are many reflections I would like to make, but I allow them to come as they will or will not. I thank God for you my faithful supporters.
I was climbing towards the sun. My steps brought me closer to that glorious presentation, but as I climbed I also knew it was to be my last vision for this chapter of life. I wished I could tell the flowers I would return. I wished I could tell the sun to pause and never go down.
I wished for many unforeseen things, things only known by Our Father. The next best thing to a wish is receiving a promise, but I knew promises belong to the future and fate will always run its course its own way. I am only as good as my word and my words are weak and easily broken. If I break my word, I break myself. Besides to stand on top of the world as I knew it was a gift. To travel is a gift and who I am to complain that the gift was not good enough?
Reaching the top of that place I turned my body to the sun and lifted my device to catch the rays in a Time-Lapse. I would take with me a piece of the present and relive it every time I desired. I watched my Aunt and Uncle rise up from the path far below, and I watched their steps. They have these hills for as long as they live here, and I tried to find the gratitude I had just felt a moment ago.
A strong breeze rushed into my ear canals and pulled at the lengths of long fabric which billowed around my legs. The wind pushed me obnoxiously down the hill. “No not yet. I am not ready to go.” I dug my heels into the dusty, dessert, dirt and stabilized my camera.
The four of us waited, an Aunt, an Uncle, a fellow friend with the perfect balance of bookish-nerdiness and cycling athleticism. And then of course there was little i. What we waited for did not matter. I may have waited for time to start ticking backwards, and I would have waited for ever if not distracted by the perfect picnic and most exasperating difficult conversation. “If you had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of your life from almonds, apples, or cookies which would you pick?” My Aunt inquired, and her eyes twinkled. This was the kind of discussion that wrapped my mind semi-useless around a totem pole…how to choose!
Apples we decided as a group. Oh the sweet smell of Vermont in spring, the apple blossoms, the smell in autumn, chilled homemade apple bread, cider, crispy apples, crunchy pie crust, and cool Eden wine. I did not expect the emotions I then felt. Suddenly I longed for my birthplace, the state that possessed those things, but it was mixed and bittersweet. I sat down embraced by the settling darkness and tucked my legs up to my chest enfolding my arms around my knees and resting my chin on the little crevice between two knee caps reflecting on the memories I had made and the steps I had taken.
I looked out to the city which flickered like the fire flies back home. The heat coming up from within the city jittered the lights below and my mind spun madly, drunk from the intoxicating view from which my eyes drank deeply.
“Kathryn, what is the Vermont state song?” my Aunt asked.
“These Green Hills,” I Responded.
“Won’t you sing it?”
I remembered my Girl State days. The last time I tried to move the words from within my lungs to the air, I couldn’t get them out. That last time, I was overcome with happiness. This time I was overcome with a mixture of emotions none of which would leave me in a safe position to sing of my beautiful home state. Would I choke this time too? I gave my Aunt a non-answer hoping she would forget and drop the request. I refreshed my memory on the lyrics just in case but knew I did not sing for people, only to myself in my own queer little way. My Aunt does not forget what she asks, and so I obliged, stood from my seat, and pretended I was alone.
These green hills and silver valley’s are my home. They belong to me.
And to all of her sons and daughters may they be strong and forever free.
Let us live to protect her beauty and look with pride on the golden dome.
They say home is where the heart is.
These green mountains are my home.
These green mountains are my home.
I felt the last word “home” fall from my lips as silently as the wind in the grass and wondered if it was audible. I was tired, but blissfully happy. There was no place I would rather be than in those hills at that time surrounded by those people. That was home.
The following day was the same confused, excited, packing adventure that brought me to California, Mexico and beyond. I slipped my red shoes on and pulled luggage after me. I left behind little pieces of me on sticky notes which promised to keep company the blank mirrors, windows, and walls. I left behind words on everything. They are stories. They are life. They are God.
In the airport I was everything the security guards despise—blonde, forgetful, spacey, and over-packed. I blame the hour and my inexperience flying. One day I would travel the world, and then security guards wouldn’t roll their eyes at me. Once through I sought out a quiet, small, secure corner, stacked my bags and curled up again. I let my eyes close and my unconscious thoughts flitted busily and uncontrollably. I relocated to my final proper waiting place and somehow found myself slumping into my plane seat. I closed my eyes and only woke to feel the rapid accelerating sensation of lift off. We were already high into the stars and traveling away from my California home. I saw the pulsing light on the plane wing; the blue-gleam of the stars, and nothing more, for the rest was a blur of water. My fireflies below were drowning in my tears, and I couldn’t save them and I selfishly didn’t care. Tucking my legs up to my chest once more I held myself with my arms to catch the rain which fell hot and salty into my lap. What did I cry for…I cried for Milagros, my little Mexican sister with only a hand spun bracelet for a memory. I cried for my bedroom window into which I had had to break through. I cried for Daniel in Costa Rica, the first person who smiled the courage into me to speak a language not my own. I cried for the church piano whose perfect, ivory keys longed to make beautiful music. I cried for my friends at Azusa University and for the little town of Whittier, for the Whittier library, and friends either on the bookshelves or behind the desk, and most of all I cried for the hills, the sun, and the two beautiful souls sleeping at home who allowed a fairy-sprite to enter their lives.
“Home,” I whispered caressing the word. I dropped my bags in our Vermont mudroom to lift my nose to the air for the smell of “Bassette.” I was told when away from home for a long time we smell the legacy of our family. Home still smelled of winter for snowflakes had begun to fall. I untied my dusty red shoes. Holding them by the strings I carried them and my luggage up the stairs allowing my hand to brush the tiny hand prints of my siblings painted onto the wall years ago. I set my little red shoes beneath my bed and sat on the mattress above them content to take delight in the little joyous things I saw.
Soft footsteps walked below. Setting my bags down with care, I moused my way down the creaky stairs and peeked into the living room. “Home,” I breathed for the final time my face pressed into the soft-brushed wool-jacket of my Father.