Saturday, January 14, 2006

On the edge of somewhere just forgotten.

Over last night's supper of pizza and salad, My Beloved Mister tells me he has always dreamed of building a still, that it'd be a good hobby. He bounces Ziggy on his knee and tells him that making the still in the country will be a good father-son project and he speaks of the revenue man. I remind my Mister that our child would simply be following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, the man for whom he is a namesake. Then I tell him, in all seriousness, that he can make me my chicken coop and another baby, then he can make his still.

My Beloved Mister drinks this in, then tells me to note folks' reactions when I tell them the list in order.

I. Back close to the beginning of us, My Beloved Mister and I would drive out Highways 70 and 100, some of our closest leading away country blue highways. To eat at the Loveless Cafe. To Canoe the Harpeth. To putt down the Natchez Trace Parkway, telling our stories, dreaming our out loud dreams.

He'd tell me of an old white farm house on the edge of somewhere just forgotten, not so hip or cool. No sidewalks. Not really the city. Not really the country, according to true country people. There'd be a screened in porch filled with cozy nooks and books; a place to tangle together reading the paper over breakfast, making love at twilight, staring out at the stars and the changing seasons.

Many many nights, unable to sleep, I'd ask him to tell all about the house, our eventual home of homes. It always began, "Once upon a time, there was a Man and a Woman. And there was a house. A white farm house on the edge of somewhere just forgotten...." Sometimes the house had a widow's walk or a creaky stairway, usually a room of one's own for Ms. Booty's writing and projects. There was a dog and some fainting goats and chickens. Always chickens. A garden and sometimes a weeping willow by a creek. An out building of some kind, perhaps converted to an office for my man. "There's got to be room for the babies," I'd remind him.

II. Our child has discovered his tongue. He can roll over AND look like baby Gene Simmons while squealing and laughing and coughing. The squeal, the laugh, the cough as well as the neutral face of late, involve the tongue. Lolling in the mouth or protruding like a reed on a musical instrument. His eyes, they dance.

The laughing, it sounds like a bit like a braying donkey since our long drive home from Michigan after the New Year. That laugh. It began in Kentucky leaving the parking lot of a Kroger from where we'd purchased disposable diapers, chocolate milk and pork rinds. We were in the twelfth hour of the drive and by all rights should already have been home tucked into our own big bed. Bert the dog was shedding. Mama and Daddy Booty were spent. Ziggy had begun to nurse every hour and when my Mister took the wrong turn out of the lot away from the interstate, I went into full on entertainment mode from the Mama spot, squeezed into the backseat next to the babe. "Ha-bugga bugga bugga, haba juba," I said, as I wiggled and waved my tongue. Nothing exceptional, except that as his father turned us back around by driving through a bank parking lot, my antics hit Ziggy's funny bone. "Hwawww," came pushing out of his joyfully opened mouth, like the air in his lungs was expelled in a not so painful way. His father recognized it as a laugh. "Hwawww," our Ziggy brayed.

III. Having a child has made our entire world experience new, as it does for every parent. We've become less self absorbed and anxious and blundersome. We have begun to explore moving to the country.

The weeks preceding and through the holidays, we talk about our hopes and dreams for the life we wish to create and provide for our no longer theoretical family. We talk about staying and going with regard to the city, the state, the region. We talk about extended family and how important they are, my need for closeness with my folks and sister and her girls, the circles of which I am a part in Middle Tennessee and how my best friends are not far from here. We talk about the ways in which we can earn enough to carve out our little life of lives with Ziggy integrated into it and we begin to think of commitment in broader way than simply to one another, to our boy, to our families.

We begin to think of commitment to place.

At Christmas, my father passes along cherished family keepsakes, and as the New Year opens out to possibility, my father in law gently shares his thoughts about putting down roots.

Back home in East Nashville, we learn that the home in which we've been living for the last three and a half years-- the home in which we were wed, the home in which we conceived our child and began our family life-- is being sold. Within days of the New Year, there is a sign in the yard. On top of the two shootings-- one of them a fatal car jacking of a young Music Row employee-- that have taken place in our neighborhood in the last month, this week there are a pair of armed robberies just blocks from our house. A couple walking home from a neighborhood bar are first, then forty feet beyond and on the other side of our city councilman's home, a gentleman unloading his vehicle of groceries is next.

I'm sleeping less soundly than ever these days, drifting in and out of the sleep of a young mother alert to the stir and cry of her child, but too, alert to the cry of the greater world beyond my door. Two of my nearest neighbors have husbands traveling over the weekend, one of them for the first time since their baby was born a few months before ours. I rise early early this very morning and walk the block with Bert, bundled against the cold, taking in the familiar pieces of this life we've made: the dark stillness of the bungalow next door, the absence of the van across the street since its owner is on tour, the naked limbs of the few large trees left on the block following 1999's tornado. The wind whips, a far away dog barks and an owl hoots from the forested springs behind our home. The train will whistle once I've ambled back down the block and cozied up at my desk inside. I notice that all the lights are on at my friend's home and quietly hold her in the light as I recall that the only my husband traveled in the time we've been here, I awoke near midnight to someone at our back door. I send out blessings over each of these homes surrounding mine this early winter morning, and to the people within them, sleeping in their beds, rising with their babies, sipping coffee in their pajamas.

Back home, Bert takes up his place at the foot of the bed and in the dark, I listen to the breathing and snore of my baby and husband. I smell their sweet earthy smells and lean in close enough to feel the warmth of their sleeping dreaming selves on my cool skin. These two. They are the song for me. They are for whom I am becoming the woman I always wanted to be, the ones for whom I silently offer thanks and for whom, along with that other baby, I will someday gather breakfast eggs from my hens.

They are my commitment to place, and to finding our home of homes on the edge of somewhere just forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for thinking of me yesterday morning! i was awake at 5 a.m. but kept the lights on all night.....

    and i know you will find the *perfect* house.