reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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big red. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

CO to WI copy

colorado to wisconsin.  with a stop in columbia, missouri.  the first day is long.  twelve hours give or take.  we drive out of colorado into kansas, which has to be one of the wider states in the journey, and head for wendy’s.  she and keith are tolerant of whatever-time-we-get-there, knowing the challenges of a long drive.  this time, it was different.

this time we weren’t in our littlebabyscion toodling along, huffing and puffing up hills.  this time we were in Big Red, a giant ford F150.  she hadn’t been driven this-far-at-one-time in years.  we were high up and felt like road warriors.

columbus gave us a couple cassette tapes to play in the player and, in planning ahead, i had brought a dozen favorites from years past (ok, the 70s are many years past.)  we played each of them, singing along.  and then switched to the radio.  it only seemed right that country music be blaring out of the speakers, so we obliged.

although we blasted cassettes of john denver, loggins and messina, alabama, england dan & john ford coley among others, i have a few favorite radio songs of the journey east and north.  one direction’s what makes you beautiful, lady gaga and bradley cooper singing shallow, toby keith’s i wanna talk about me and my new fave, billy currington’s good directions and turnip greens.  a sweet country-music story.

we were talking with jen and brad last night in their kitchen, lingering over our potluck together.  we talked about compromise and life and decisions and chance.  like everyone, david and i have had our share of each of those.  decisions sorted and pondered, and compromises, bending to the things that make life meaningful, balancing reality with idealism.  and then there’s chance.  we could relate to the story of turnip greens…happenstance changing life.   a choice, one direction taken, a turn, one click…and everything changes.  what comes is predicated on what was and what is this very second.  we second those lyrics – thank God for good directions and turnip greens.

we turned up the stereo in Big Red and opened the windows with the AC on.  somewhere along the way, we decided it was a she, for she had gently mothered columbus as he drove a bit more gingerly in recent days and she sturdily and protectively lumbered us across the country.  laughing and certain of everything and absolutely nothing, we turned this beautiful big old pickup truck toward home.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

big red & little baby scion website box copy


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the back seat on the porch.

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monticello is a small town. there is a main road and a few arteries – small businesses dot these arteries a block or two off the main street. we’ve driven through there a time or two before, to see the place columbus talked about, but mostly to try and buy him a t-shirt. somehow, we managed to always get there after the shops closed, which is a little earlier than we were used to. so, no t-shirts.

this time, though, we were there to stay a few days. we picked up columbus and jeanne from the airport and brought them to an airbnb farmhouse we had pre-arranged. i knew that was the place to stay when i saw the porch.IMG_0020 i could picture columbus sitting on that porch, with the surrounding land to which his soul was ever-connected. i booked it, despite my mother-in-law’s wishes to stay at a motel in the area. now, it is dangerous to not listen and, even with my certainty about that being the right place for this pilgrimage, i was a little nervous about how they (read: she) would feel about it. they are dear to me and i don’t want to – well, let’s just say – tick them off.

IMG_0013the first time we sat on the porch columbus had a lite beer and stared out at the corn and soybeans (at least we think they were soybeans.). he talked about his days working in fields, traveling the roads he wondered if he could now remember, his friends, his growing-up house.

i sat in the back row on the porch and listened and watched. although we all asked questions, no other voices were really necessary…just his. the back row is a good place to listen from and to watch from. IMG_0019 i could watch my husband listening to his dad, absorbing the details, sometimes patiently listening to repeated stories. i could watch my mother-in-law help with some of the details, talking about the history columbus had and their shared decades of life, some of it spent in this panther-highschool-football-team-land. i spent a good bit of time staring at the corn and soybeans too. and a good bit of time silently taking pictures of a sojourn that my father-in-law had talked about for years.

he had wanted to “go back home” for quite some time. he wanted to visit the cemetery where he “knew a lot of people”.  IMG_0009he wanted to go see and touch the home that his grandpa built, proud to have been raised in a house where he saw the toil that made it possible. he wanted to visit with his aunt joanne, a feisty woman just a couple years older than him. his list wasn’t long. not much else. he just wanted to BE there. and so we were. we followed his heart around his home town.

we sat on the porch the second day to greet the morning and later in the day to process the day. we seemed to have assigned seats, mine, once again, in the back row, a place i lingered in, petting the farm cat i had fallen in love with, listening, sipping coffee or wine. i watched the satisfied look on columbus’ face take hold, the longing of wanting-to-go-back sated by the being-there. he was surrounded by memories-he-remembered and by memories-that-were-slipping-away. he navigated trying moments of confusion in his talk-talk. he spoke of glorious times. he spoke of hard times. he talked -like we all talk about the place that was home- with deep love and a root that is unbreakable.

the next day we visited with his aunt, a couple other relatives, a few old friends.  we went and found a pork tenderloin sandwich for him. we drove away from town for the last time and back to the farmhouse.IMG_0010 it was a little chilly that evening. early the next morning we would be taking them back to the airport. we didn’t sit on the porch.

i went out to see sweetie (the name i gave the cat) and to look at the sky, to remember. i, momentarily, took my back seat on the porch and quietly gave thanks for this time. i know why columbus didn’t want to porch-sit that night. sometimes, it’s a little too much. sometimes, a porch can make you feel more emotion than you can handle. i think, for columbus, that last night on the porch was one of those times.IMG_0017

so this time we were there -in that little town- when it was open. and this time we got him a t-shirt.  he was planning to wear it the day he got back home.  and who doesn’t get that?


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‘peanuts’ and my big brother.

as i type this on an ipad under a blanket on the couch, i am using a hard-cover book to steady the ipad….it is the charles schulz “peanuts treasury” copyrighted in 1968. now that is a kind of random bit of information, but its randomness makes me think of my big brother. and so whatever i was going to write has now gone by the wayside, getting lost in this ‘peanuts’ treasury of memories. wayne was an avid ‘peanuts’ follower, a lover of all fullsizerender2things charlie brown and snoopy, a wonderful artist and brilliant mathematician, a person who could make or fix all things. he papered his walk-in closet in our basement growing up with ‘peanuts’ cartoons, cut out of the newspaper. what wasn’t covered in cartoons was drawn by hand, and when i inherited this bedroom/closet combo from him at 16, i adored it. the wallboard in our garage had drawings by wayne, making it the only ‘peanuts’ garage-gallery on the block, ok, probably most anywhere.

what was so compelling to him about ‘peanuts’? i’m not sure. i never had a philosophical conversation with him about it. for me, 9 years younger than him, it was just a fact of life…he loved the cartoon. and if he loved it, that was good enough for me. i loved it.

having a cartoon we have been honing for some time, we have studied ‘peanuts’ in more recent days, david and i. looking for clues as to why it was so very successful. it seems obvious now. it was so relate-able, for so many reasons. simply written, predictable, cleanly done, beautifully drawn. ‘peanuts’ has spoken to so many of us through the years. and still does. it holds a certain special place in our hearts, reaching across decades and spanning generations. i recently was given a charlie brown mug from the charles m. schulz museum and research center in california – a gift from h, an older member of our choir who had just visited the museum – and i cherish it. wayne would have loved it.

years ago, a long while of years, i visited long island and went to my old house. as i sat out front in the car, the owners of the house pulled up into the driveway. without much hesitation, i went to them and told them that this was the house i had grown up in; my parents had been the first owners. they were the second owners. we stood out front and we chatted about the house -my-home-now-their-home- and how they had changed some of the interior and yard (but not the hand-placed rock fireplace or the forsythia out front or my poetry tree.)

i must have had a wistful look on my face, because they asked if i wanted to see it, go inside my house, er, their house. of course i did. who doesn’t want to go back to those old touchstones and feel – from the inside – times spent there.

they showed me the kitchen, which they had updated, the backyard deck, which they had added, the laundry room (of course, without the westinghouse dryer that played “how dry i am” upon finishing.) i talked about the basement. about the bedroom i had had there and the coolest closet my big brother had created. they laughed hearing that and said they had seen and loved it but had, indeed, changed it to a cedar closet for storage. i didn’t expect it to still be there, but i guess something inside of me had hoped for that.

once again, the look on my face must have said all.

they looked at each other and then back at me. “but you might want to take a look at the garage,” she said.

we walked out into the garage, just a one-car garage that they hadn’t changed. as i walked in through the door in the den, i looked at the wall behind me. the world war II flying ace snoopy graced the wallboard and charlie brown was there beside him. ‘peanuts’ had done it again. warmed my heart.

i reached out to touch the wall, moved, knowing my big brother’s hand had been there, many many years before.

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LAST I SAW YOU on iTunes: kerri sherwood – track 11 on THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY

 

 

 


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the way home.

IMG_1794i stood on crab meadow beach, looked across the sound, and dropped to my knees to touch the sand on that very familiar place. i can’t count how many times i sat on that very beach…the wind has taken drifted waves of sand and moved them around, the waves and rain and erosion have changed the shape of the inlet, but i recognize it. deep inside me, i can feel it – from long ago. and still.

crab meadow is not the most beautiful beach by beach standards. (i know  – i talked about it a lot in my june 20, 2015 blog called ‘the gorgeous disorderliness that is life.’) it is rocky and pebbly and not vast and you can see the stacks from there when you look left, but i will always consider it my most important beach. so much time spent there. winter, spring, summer, fall. it is one of the places i call home.

and just a few weeks ago i found my way there. to my crab meadow beach.

my husband understood my need to sit and ponder and meander through my thoughts and memories. he was both appropriately quiet and conversational. he engaged in my memories, my musings and my relationship with that tide, and held me as i felt wistful. so much growing happened for me on that beach, since that beach. in that place. home.

i was always the kind of kid who got homesick. being thready does that to a person. i still get homesick. homesick for places, people, times gone by. my roots mean so much to me: climbing the fence to the beach pre-dawn, my dog missi in the well of my vw bug, sitting with notebooks in my tree….i can still hear the clanking of masts in northport harbor…. i remember childhood playdates with dianne, bike hikes and drives and countless overnights with susan, bobdylanjohndenver arguments with marc, joe-z lecturing me on driving too slow on waterside avenue…i can still feel the damp wind on my face fishing with crunch in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sound….i can still see my sweet momma and poppo, in our house, my brother skateboarding with me and strumming his guitar, my sister playing leonard cohen and doing my hair…a zillion thoughts….home…

my daughter stands on the top of a huge mountain and feels home. my son, in the midst of his big busy city, feels home.   i look west and i look south – toward them – and know that part of what makes home for me is now climbing a mountain or riding the ‘L’ train.

and so i stood on that beach and thought about life since…decades after the days i had spent huge slices of time there.

i felt like i had come there to pick up something i left behind, to reclaim something. but now i wonder if actually i needed to be there to leave something there…to leave that which i no longer needed.   i have yet to figure out the sudden burst of tears that came with my feet in that sand.

i just know that crab meadow, once again, came through for me. it will always be home. no matter how many other places or people i call home, i will always be able to find my way home. there.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood: this part of the journey: the way home