Oh man. Me and Katie took the babies to Dekalb Farmers Market today. She is making Calvin's baby food from scratch and they have produce from actual farms around here. And from not anywhere around here. Anyway, the building is massive and COLD. They keep this four billion square foot building almost as cold as your refrigerator. (she packed sweaters for the kids and for me because that is how she rolls) She also has purloined a wheat mill to make her own bread (we will be glad she is with us in the coming zombie apocalypse) Again, anyway, she likes to go there because they have the all natural ingredients for Bobo's baby food for super cheap and for her bread making and for the super basic way she is cooking these days. It's pretty amazing how hard you have to swim upstream to live like Mom lived. She has a group of friends who shop there and they call each other when they are going and get their lists of items to purchase (we had 2 carts and one was for her and one was for her buds - living in community, she is) Let's just go ahead and say that this whole first paragraph is dedicated to how amazing Katie is. Her homemaking brings tears to my eyes. (I am actually tearing up at this very minute just thinking about it all)
I had never been before to the Dekalb Farmers Market. As you may have deciphered, I was impressed. So when she told me that this would be our Tuesday outing for the week (we spend Tuesdays together when it isn't tax season), my wheels started turning. I thought, "That is probably near the old house." A Google map search confirmed my suspicions.
Several months ago, I did a Google search on Valencia and saw the old house in satellite view. I know that some of you have driven by there in years past from time to time. I never had. The map I printed was a piece of crap and we weren't sure how to leave the market to get there. But, it is weird. I just started driving in the right direction. A really nice older black man saw us on Ponce and could tell we were lost. He pulled up beside us real slow like in a convertible Mercedes and told us how to get to 2nd Ave. We didn't retain everything he said and stopped again when we saw a lady outside of a church. She was super gracious. She asked us if we were trying to get to the golf course. It sort of hurt my heart. I told her, "No, we are looking for the old house, it's where I lived as a child." In my imagination, we shared a split second of kinship somehow. She remembered Leslie J. Steele, which is now something else, and told us exactly how to get there.
So, we got there. We saw the elementary school where I actually remember singing to myself in the lunch line (in first grade) (that seemed like we were walking to Alabama and not to the next hallway), "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now I need a place to hide away." How odd what we remember. I think I must have always felt the power of melancholy. I feel it now. I also remember seeing a hypnotist entertain on the stage at that school and pondering in my little first grade brain what it all meant. I saw the crosswalk where the crossing guard would say to me every morning, "Every hair in place." I saw the detour that I took one day walking home from school that sent my Mama into a fit of worry.
We drove down the road where Gaga would take us on picnics. That same huge oak tree stands at the helm of that wood. We saw the Ivey's house and the Martin's house and the girl down the road's house that told her brother to throw me on a uniform delivery truck at her birthday party. I totally remember not saying what was bothering me when I walked home early from her party. And I totally remember my Mama not ever allowing me to go to her house ever again.
And the Peacock's house. What? That hill from our driveway to the back of their house, past their beautiful daughter lying in the sun smearing butter. Actual melting butter. On her self. That hill seemed like Kennesaw Mountain. Well, it is the gentlest slope imaginable. You can't even visually detect the changing topography. I swear it felt like a mountain marching up that hill in front of my Mama who made me apologize to David Peacock for saying his cat was stupid. What I would have said, had I not been 5, was that David Peacock was stupid. And he should be ashamed of himself for harassing little girls half his age day after day after day. I saw the fence next to the Peacock's yard, it looks like the very same fence, that it was a terrible shame if your ball went over. And how brave my big brother was to climb it over. And back again. With the ball.
Still, those were the first lessons I can remember, the first of many, in "be who you are, be the person you want to be, no matter who someone else decides to be. Be who you are." It is a lesson I draw on every week. Every day. Nothing works if you ain't being you.
So the old house? Anti-climax. I couldn't make out the front walk that I distinctly remember talking Ben into putting on his Easter shoes with me (that Mama had just bought) and marching around outside. I remember taking them out of the tissue, out of the box, the way the patent leather smelled, the way the marching felt on that walkway. Where is the stoop that I drove my tricycle off of that I remember busting open the back of my head and Mama rinsing me off in the sink just so she could put me in the car to have stitches while she told me Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Or was it The Three Little Pigs?
You can't see much from the road. And, if Bobo is yelling in the backseat, you tend to lose focus. So, I guess my takeaway is this, it ain't the place. It's the stuff that happened in the place. And if you are looking to the place to mean anything in comparison to the happenings, you might be disappointed initially. But, you will have been given the chance to remember all the rememberings. And know that it is no wonder to be as awesome as you are.