Monday, April 23, 2007

Right Here. (updated)

The Front Gate.

I pulled up into the driveway and stopped the car. A man in his mid-forties stood peering at me, waterhose in hand. I opened my door and stepped out and smiled. "I'm Sara Leah Miller. Dave Miller's daughter." His questioning stare turned into a half grin as he put down the hose and walked over to where I stood. I stood next to a green tinted mound of earth. A sad strange heap of ground where a white two story house once stood. The house of my Grandfather and his father. The simple small house that I often run through in my day dreams, thinking of it's stale quiet air. Dusty corners and dead silence. My sad homestead, my heritage, now a mound of dirt and a lonesome gate.

We chatted for a while. We walked to the backyard of the gentleman's small white prefab house nestled where the drive once ran into the garage and the milkhouse. A tree stood in the distance, familiar, but bare...the tree which once held my treehouse. The treehouse had been a grand affair, two platforms of lumber and an underbelly of sturdy limbs to climb in and swing from. It had once seemed so big and my father, like my family, roots so deep in the soil, so tall and healthy and eternal. Now it stood, branches outstretched and unburdened, wading through the mid-day breeze coming across the plains. I felt it. I understood it's lonliness and it's freedom in one long glance.

His wife leaned on the deck. Her faded t-shirt and easy smile made me feel at home, even while I felt this small constant yearning, this comparison of old and new, memories to reality tearing at my head. "I think I may come back through this summer. Would it be okay if I came out here and took a walk through the pasture? I don't have time today but..."

She nodded her head, "Of course, you are always welcome."
He scratched his head and put his hand on his hip, "Now mind you the cows aren't out. We've got a new bull, so check with me first."

I turned and looked across the slight roll of hills, the trees in the distance cloaking the turn in Camp Creek, the turn at the base of a big tree. Blue bells always bloomed there at it's feet. It's branches were so high that Davey and his friends would take a running-flying leap, running their shoes and knees and gangly arms up the side to reach one big solid knob about 7 feet up. They rarely got very far, there was really nothing to hold on to. They would look up longingly to the upmost branches and see the remains of my father's boyhood treehouse...a few grey tattered boards, but to them it was like some fabled land, some dream in distant past that someday would come true.

I turned the corner of the house back to my car and slid into the seat. My shoulders bent and searching, my heart a little weary. I drove up the lane, speeding and speeding, my thoughts bursting, my memories flowing down my body and into my car seat and out into the road behind me. At the stop sign, the abrupt screeching halt, a young boy on a riding mower looked up, smiled and lifted his hat. I looked out over the farmland, down the road to my family's resting place and to the land they loved so much. The stereo was turned off, but in my head...I heard these familiar measures of song in John Wozniak's low and somber voice...

He swore he could see the beauty there
And he said " ooo ooo oh I never wanna leave
Ooo ooo this place
Ooo ooo yes I always wanna be
Right here"

Find a place
To call home
Any place
To call home

Right here

And so I came in the dead of night
Climbed up into the satellite and
Looked out over America
I swear I could see the buffalo
Ooo ooo oh and I never wanna leave
Ooo ooo this place
Ooo ooo yes I always wanna be
Right here, right here

-America, Marcy Playground, Shapeshifter

I don't know if you know that song at all. But know this, for those first two years after I moved here, after my family had sold our land and had left our home behind...I would listen to this song so often and it's like it took the place of my heart on the matter. My night dreams were tied so tightly with the loss of all of this. My sad head would swim within the shadowed guitars and resurface in his hollow vocals. I imagined myself standing on the tip top of my treehouse, looking out over the land on a bright and windy day. Then I saw myself in the darkness climbing higher and higher and peering at the neighbors' lights so far down the road and at the barn yard and summer kitchen and every single structure glowing from the one light above the barn. At that moment, in that vision, it was all I ever knew and everything I ever wanted. I never understood it until then, I let the rest of myself, everything that I ever thought I was, crumble away and I stood there, clutching to limbs in the thick whipping air of the plains watching the night fade back into sleep. (j)

No comments: