Some Things Stay

June 14, 2004

Wherever I am, there will always be breakfast. Whether we wake up at seven or two. I’ll make it. I hope you don’t mind that I’m worthless at making eggs. Bright pinky-red strawberries in shiny silver bowls. Sweet smells drifting upstairs. A little dog content under the table and my daffodils in a vase. Coffee. An open window letting in the morning breeze. Shelves lined with my teapots. Sitting at the table cross-legged. Making every day last a year.

Earlier today I was digging through my old journal, the one I started in the early part of 2001 and that I kept regularly for most of the next 10 years, only slowing down with posts a few years ago. It is odd, being able to look back in time like that. The things I worried about seemed so big then. Now, looking back, distance and maturity makes them appear much smaller.

It’s less the events and more the person writing them that interests me. She seems so different. I wonder, if I could tell her anything, would I? I’ve watched enough movies about time travel to know how much havoc that can wreak. It’s probably best that space and time keep me from communicating with my younger self.

In spite of all the differences, there’s something about reading those words and finding in them something that is still true. So little about my life looks the same as it did back then. But there are parts of it that I can trace from the beginning of that journal, clear through today, a few true, steady things that remain.

When he started to speak, I couldn’t concentrate. I was sure he had spotted me in the audience, and I was trying to guess what he was thinking. How did I look to him? How different was the woman of twenty-nine from the girl of seventeen? — Paulo Coelho, By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

I am a quarter inch taller. I have mastered most of the ways an egg can be prepared (still rotten at poaching). If you look closely, you may spot a snow white hair or two peeking through my black roots. There are fewer questions in my eyes and, I think, a touch more confidence.

Really though, looking past external, circumstantial changes and the sometimes naive tone I had, so much of it is the same. A few years ago someone asked me if I felt I had changed much in the last decade of my life and upon examining where my head and heart were about things, I concluded that I didn’t feel I had changed much at all. Not at the core of my being.

Maybe it’s a flaw, looking back as I do, like Lot’s wife. I am not convinced. There is something steadying about turning and seeing who you were and knowing that many of the things you have faith in, hope for, and love remain the same.

As it happens, this 2000 page anchor of a journal once bore a title that makes more sense to me now than it did when I plucked the words from the pages of a book…

Some things stay.

Folk Tale

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with an everyday item that for the most part goes unnoticed — my granny’s living room wall calendar. It hung next to Paw Paw’s chair, right above the end table. It wasn’t just any wall calendar with puppies or kittens or scenic views. This one featured 12 different folk art paintings by artist Linda Nelson Stocks. Every one of those paintings was incredibly detailed and for a child it was fun to find some of the tiny items tucked into the corners. A cat peeking around a corner, a woman hanging laundry up on a hillside, a tiny orchard off in the distance.

My favorite thing to do when the year was over was to take the calendar and sit with it, looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with the characters in the print. There were always an abundance of them to choose from in the paintings and often I would pick something like a girl walking away from a farmhouse, pail in hand, headed up the hill to fetch water from the well. Looking back, the imagining I did in the middle of these calendars was one of the first steps down a road to writing.

When I moved into my own house and Granny asked me what kind of calendar I’d like for Christmas (she used to always get each grandchild a calendar as a part of their Christmas, but I’m not sure any of the others still get one…leave it to me to cling to tradition), I knew exactly what I wanted. That was quite a few years ago now and every year since I’ve had the Linda Nelson Stocks calendar hanging in my kitchen.

Every year, one of my favorite pages to turn to was the month of October. It always has a number of different things going on in it — children in costume, owls, an occasional bat, and typically a big, bright moon. Oh, and lots and lots of pumpkins.

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You never know what you’re going to find in there!

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I was sad to hear when Linda Nelson Stocks passed away a few years ago. I believe the calendar for 2012 was the last one she completed and this year’s calendar was a collection of paintings used in previous years. Tomorrow, I’ll turn the page to November, my birth month. I looked ahead already and saw that the date on the painting is 1984. It makes me smile.

Disclaimer! That one teeny tiny link in this post is an affiliate link. So if you click through and purchase something on Amazon while you’re there I might make a penny or two.

Five Minute Friday: Home

I often write about home. To me, that conjures up images of where I am from, not where I currently live. But I’m being unfair and shortchanging this little place. If I had never lived here, I might not have ever figured out just how much more I love living in the country.

For the past 8 years, I have lived in this tiny white house in the middle of a medium sized college town. The first time I stepped a foot inside it and saw the bedroom with a wall that was one huge bookshelf, I knew I would live here. I felt it deep down inside that this was a place where I would breathe and sleep and eat and read and grow.

More big things have happened to me since I moved into this house than any of my previous homes. I cried, I cooked, I had roommates, I fell in love, I got married, I cried more. I found and left jobs. Late nights I spent writing and reading, finishing my English degree. Getting up going to class and then to work and…I became an adult here.

It was the first place I lived alone. Where I shut the door behind me and I was the only one left inside.

I started this a different way and then went back and began again, even though that’s not what this is all about. Some stories are not ready to be told.

Be sure to check out the other Five Minute Friday posts!

Five Minute Friday