Housework is not my thing. At all. It was sooooo nice to be in the mountains, in someone else’s sparsely furnished house. No messes, no clutter. My house is a disaster. It should have yellow hazard tape around it. Really.
Remember the contractor that was going to redo the windows and siding on our house, oh, about 6 weeks ago? Well, they came Tuesday and did the windows. It rained on Wednesday so they didn’t come back until Thursday to start on the siding, which was totally OK because Wednesday was move in day at college for Wubby. He packed up the car and the van and off we went like it was nothing. Only we forgot to pack the sheets (twin XL, specifically for college dorm rooms) so by lunch time he was back home to get the sheets and eat. Then he was gone again.
It’s probably a good thing that he’s only twenty miles away because I’m not sure who misses who the most. I know his little sister misses him something terrible. And after all the mommy-ing and fussing and prodding….I miss him something terrible myself. He called from the dorm the first night and said things were ok but he was homesick. Twenty miles away and he’s homesick. And four years from now when it’s his sister’s turm, I’m not sure she’ll be able to leave the driveway. She was homesick when we were in Arizona, and we were all there together! She’s definitely a home girl.
I look at my kids and wonder how it could be that they are, for all practical purposes, grown. And how they could be such home-bodies. Then I remember growing up, moving a lot, and home wasn’t really a place. Home was where Mama and Daddy were.
My energy level has been non-existent this week, partly because we found Elk Knob last Friday and hiked to the top and back. It’s a beautiful place. From the summit you can see up into Virginia–White Top and Mount Rogers; Roan Mountain (I think) in Tennessee; Grandfather Mountain, Beech, Mount Mitchell, and tons more North Carolina mountains. The hike will, one day, be very pleasant. It’s a new state park and the trail is under construction. The first little bit is very easy. Then the trail just ends and you’re left with an old logging road that goes straight up to the top. One mile and 1000 feet in elevation, straight up. It’s a difficult trek. Even the kids, who went lickety-split all the way up said later that it was a hard walk. I stopped several times, thinking I just couldn’t go another step. Then I’d muster up some courage or stupidity or something and go some more. Hubby kept encouraging me, feeding me blackberries. A few yards shy of the summit I sat down on a rock and just cried, saying “I can’t do this anymore. Let the fibromyalgia win. I quit.” (Actually I usually say “Let the Wookie win.” Our family lexicon would be frightenly dull without movie quotes!)
But it wasn’t the hike that I couldn’t do any more. I think I realized, for the first time, just how close we were to watching the first fledgling leave the nest. What I was really grieving was not the limitations of my stupid fibro. I was the end of my son’s childhood, and maybe the end of my “young” adulthood. He’s out there now, in the world, learning to make it on his own. Yes, we’re helping and we’re always here for him, like tomorrow after church when he’ll be here looking at the outside of our house and shaking his head, and then packing up more stuff from his room before he goes back to school. I guess you don’t really grasp how monumental the task of parenting is until you let the first one go. At least I didn’t.
So, about home. It has always bugged me to hear someone say something like “Look at the beautiful home.” It’s a house, definitely. It might be a home. Then again, it might not. A house is shelter. A home is relationship.
If you’re about my age and you grew up in this part of the country, then you might remember that Beech Mountain used to have a theme park at the top called “Land of Oz.” It’s gone now, but the gazebo is still there. Back in the day there was a sculpture of Dorothy and Toto in the center of the gazebo, with the quote from the movie:
if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!
For me, in terms of place, home is the mountains, even though I don’t live there now. But home is really where my family is. Home. It’s the messy house where I sit pecking away on my computer, listening to the TV as my little girl sits on the couch, gnawing on beef jerky. And where my husband is currently crashed in the bedroom after spending the day painting gutters. And it’s the house across the way where my mom lives now.
And, in spite of the messiness, it’s where I wanna be.