I took the hottest shower as soon as I got home. Something about traveling leaves me ridiculously ravaged. I arrived last night looking as though I’d been in a black Friday fist fight with a dozen women over forty who assaulted me with shopping bags full of napkin rings and snow globes.
It was dark when I got here, the trees of my neighborhood were skeletal- branches how I remember them, intrinsic veins against the new winter sky. There were so many things: Winding roads and lit windows, the creak of the side door, the laundry room with it’s familiar ambiance...soap and piles of clothes, shoes kicked all over the tile. I could see years of shoes that moment, even the Velcro character shoes and winter boots with mud and snow melting on the same rug. The very same rug on which I kicked off my own shoes and stood still for a moment in the dark. Home.
I took the hottest shower I can ever remember and let myself be closed inside what I knew... the box of home, the box of hallway, the box of bathroom, the box of shower, the box of me. I rummaged through an old dresser in the alcove, still full of suit coats from a four year-old, and all the paraphernalia of Blue Grass Elementary, long since discarded, years of outgrowth packed into those drawers. And as I held a pair of blue pajames I knew so well, I cried and put them on (four buttons missing...a rip down the leg) and realized in so many ways, I have become my mother.
I went downstairs, picked up the dishes (as if I’d never been away) and locked all the doors. I climbed into bed, old pajama pant legs tucked into my socks just like mom used to do, collar turned up, four buttons missing, and me, all held together by the parts of my life that I still had stuffed in a drawer somewhere in the keeping of home.
The rugs in my bathroom are red. Suddenly. Just like when I was a child. I couldn’t help but think that there was some sort of ironic cycle taking place in my world. Coming home is like waking up and remembering who I am, and even though everything comes naturally, there’s a certain curtain of awe over all the simple things I couldn’t notice when I was eleven, or seventeen, or twenty-two. Here, in my own bed, the sound of the heat vent lulls me, and lamplight spills my childhood across the page. I know every tree on the brink of my yard, and the woods, held close by familiar darkness, swathed by the half-moment of night across my curve of open sky. I know the cold that hangs over the grass, frosting the green to a smoke-gray and shimmer by pale morning light. I know the dryer downstairs and the way the stairs creak and the dishwasher hums and the shadows fall, sweet and low from a midnight moon, in patches across the dining room floor.
I am home, and I am finally alive. Walking in, I shed the world and all the masks I’d taken. I shed months of confusion, of striving and pain, loss and brokenness. Now I’m wrapped in an old familiar sheet, and the Lord brought me here. My bed holds me close, cradled, the way it has done for all my life. The old frame creaks, cold to the touch, the white curves having been brushed lightly by the hands of so many of my ages, traced by my fingers over so much time in the mornings before I’ve rolled over and faced pockets of my times: a Mickey Mouse skort, teeth aching from four years of silver braces, High school, a girl utterly ravaged by life, by travels, by Christmas mornings and lazy Saturday afternoons, running under the arch of sprinkler and summer sky. Fear, bare feet, nightmares and sickness. Death and the shadow of a robe thrown over a familiar rocking chair. Then college...and now my hands are twenty-four years old...and I trace the tall white metal of whomever traced this bed before me, a hundred years ago on an Iowa farm where my parents found it-old frame leaning against a weathered barn. For sale.
My cheek is on the pillow. I lay beneath the kindest roof, the sweetest gaze of a hundred trees surrounding my box of heaven. Just outside on the floor of the woods, there’s a top layer of leaves yet to be covered by snow. Beneath this layer is another layer, born all over again and turned to earth by frost and light and God Himself, tracing the curve of my world with one finger. Over the horizon, surely I am yet to find the God of all my goodness. Of All Peace and this cradle of warmth and truth, born of Him. Emmanuel...My Home.
Tonight will be a fearless sleep.
(c) Brittany Rees 2009