Home and Family (Part 1)

The feeling of belonging there was overwhelming.  I felt like I was home for the first time.

Hello dear reader.

I had a topic in mind for today, but then I read a post called Home is Where the Heart Lies on a blog called Wayward Scribbles. It brought up a ton of thoughts and memories. So the other topic will have to wait for another day. Naveena Shruthi, AKA Nathi, got my inspirational juices flowing.

I lived in the Northeast part of the country (Connecticut) until I was 13, at which time my mother and stepfather (for reasons I still can’t fathom) moved our family to the deep South (Louisiana). I dealt with severe culture shock. Everything was completely different. For example, I learned about the Civil war in school in Connecticut. I was taught when it happened and the basics of why. It was history, like the Revolutionary war. When I moved to Louisiana I discovered that for a lot of people there the Civil war had never ended. People actually disliked me (to put it mildly) because I was a “yankee” from the North. They flew rebel flags and had bumper stickers reading, “The South’s gonna rise again!” What was considered polite was also different. I grew up calling adults Mr. or Mrs. last name. In the South, the polite way to address an adult was Ms. or Mr. first name. In the Northeast, saying “yes” or “no” (as opposed to “yeah” or “nope”) was polite. In the South, the polite response is “yes or no ma’am” or “yes or no sir.” I actually got paddled because a teacher asked me a question and I answered “Yes.” She responded, “Yes, what?” and I had no idea what she was asking me. I think the worst of all was when kids at school would gather around me and say, “Talk.” I usually responded with, “What do you want me to say?” at which everyone would laugh hysterically ay me.

Thirteen is a difficult age. The last thing you want to do is stand out. I was a laughing stock because of the way I talked and an enemy because of where I had come from. Teenagers tend to group up. There are the jocks, the nerds, the potheads, etc. There isn’t a group for “yankees” and I didn’t fit anywhere. It was lonely, confusing, and traumatic. I desperately needed a place where I felt safe and loved, but didn’t have one. Things at home were rough, to put it mildly. I didn’t feel safe or loved there either. Eventually I made a few friends and things got easier, but I never felt like I fit in Louisiana.

I got out a few times, but always got pulled back. My sister is the only one of my siblings that never left. My three brothers eventually got out and stayed out. 27 years after moving to Louisiana, I came to the Rocky Mountains to visit. It was incredible! The feeling of belonging there was overwhelming. I felt like I was home for the first time. During my 24 hour visit, one afternoon to the next, I rented a house. I went back to Louisiana for a month to prepare for the move and was homesick the entire time. A week before my 40th birthday I moved with my husband (at the time) and my youngest two children to a tiny village in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado called Twin Lakes. I didn’t know a soul. I got a job in the General Store/Post Office in the village and began attending church in the closest town (Leadville) and quickly made several friends. Finally, after all my years of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, I was home.

This is turning out to be a longer story than I meant for it to (imagine that!) so I think I’ll continue it tomorrow. Have you ever felt like an outsider? Have you ever found a place that you know was your home? There’s a comment box below where you can tell me your story. I’d love to hear it!

Until next time…

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A childhood sanctuary

Hello dear reader,

I have no idea what to write about today, so I’m just going to start and see what comes out. 

It’s stopped snowing and the sun is shining brightly.  The sky is that deep blue that I’ve never seen anywhere besides here, with light fluffy clouds floating by.  They’re the kind of clouds that are made for lying on your back in the grass and watching, seeing animals and castles and anything else your imagination can invent.  It’s a perfect day to sit in the sun and read a book, or better yet, lie in a hammock and read a book.  It’s the kind of day sheets should be flapping on a clothesline getting that wonderful smell that can’t be gotten any other way.  It’s a day to have all the windows in the house open, letting the fresh air make everything smell clean.  Very soon the wildflowers will be blooming everywhere.  They bring a rainbow of colors that are constantly changing, making the mountains look like a multi-colored quilt still being made.  It is almost time for camping and hiking, being in the middle of nature and all it’s glory.  Leadville is a very small town, but even here there are the sounds of cars and motorcycles, stereos blasting, and sirens wailing,  In the woods there is none of that.

When I was a young child in Coventry, Connecticut I lived very near Wangumbaug lake.  It was a wonderful place.  In the summer “the shack” would be open.  It was a little building where you could buy candy, chips, soft drinks, and on the weekend they even sold hamburgers and hot dogs. 
To get to the beach from my house, I turned left from the house and went to the end of the dirt road (it was called Fox Trail), then made a left to go down Wangumbaug hill.  This was one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen in my life.  Being able to ride your bike all the way up the hill was a rite of passage, a show of strength and determination.  At the bottom of Wangumbaug hill was another hill.  There was a road down to the beach, but the rest of it was a wonderful grassy hillside.  At the bottom of the road down to the beach was the usual sandy beach and the lake.  On weekends during the summer they would show free movies at the beach.  Everyone would come with their blankets and sit on the grassy hillside to watch the movie.  The shack did a lot of business on movie nights. 

Wangumbaug lake was part of winter fun as well.  The lake would freeze and people would skate on it.  I loved to jump on a sled at the top of Wangumbaug hill, race down it then hit the hill to the beach.  The speed would propel me a good ways onto the lake.  It was worth the huffing and puffing it took to get the sled back to the top for that incredible ride down.

If I were to  turn right from the house and go to the end of Fox Trail, then turn right on the blacktop I would go down a much gentler hill and to wooded area.  A stream ran between the road and the woods.  I caught my first fish in that stream.  To get to the woods, I had to jump from rock to rock across the stream.  On the other side of the stream was a small trail (probably a deer trail) that led into the woods.  It didn’t take long to be surrounded by trees, shaded by all the leaves.  The ground was soft and mossy.   The only sounds were the birds and the crickets.  Following the trail even further,  I would come to a beautiful field.  It was almost a perfect circle with trees surrounding all of it.  In this field were beautiful flowers, grass, and sunshine.   Those woods were my hideaway.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my childhood consisted of misery and abuse.  But in the field, in the woods, there was no screaming, no pain, and most of all no fear.  There was peace and beauty and, as strange as it may sound, love.  There was an incredible sense of freedom.  I could be alone surrounded by beauty.

Even in the winter the woods were full of beauty.  One of my clearest memories is of an ice storm.  Everyone was upset because the power was out and it was hard to get anywhere on the roads.   There was also no school, of course, so I went for a walk to my hideaway.  The sun was shining and everything sparkled brightly.  The trees seemed to be covered with diamonds.  The stream was frozen and the snow wasn’t very deep, so off to my hideaway I went.  There were no birds singing or crickets chirping, just absolute silence and stillness.  There were no flowers, but the field was covered in beautiful pristine snow.  I didn’t go into the field because I didn’t want my footprints to mar the perfection.  I just stood at the edge of the field for a long time basking in the beauty and perfect stillness.

Well, that’s what came out today. Thank you for taking this stroll down memory lane with me.

Until next time….