Monday, August 29, 2011

Just a Place To Lay My Head

Some times, some of us arrive at a place of desperation. Here is a small Cecily, having arrived at that place. What it looks like to her - that desperation - is a wearisome day trailing along behind so many wearisome days with no bed to call her own.

Along came a flood and washed us all away. It swept a small Cecily right out of her crib, right out of her mother's arms who called her "my baby" and rocked her slow, and laid her down with a Boppy and a blanky giving her over to a night of sweet sleep. This flood lapped relentlessly at the bottom of our stairs and the fringes of our sanity until we turned our backs on our dear old red brick friend we now refer to as "1010," which was as true a home as we have ever known.

And so sleep becomes a borrowed thing - putting children's bodies on the floors of loved one's living rooms, and basements, and extra bedrooms. Sleep becomes a thing of thank you to those who open their doors and say "stay as long as you need, and then stay a little longer, because your kids are lovely and we have missed you, and this is what family does, and even because we need the blessings that come with being able to do this little bit for you."

We are nomadic for a spell. Having packed up the movable bits of our life into every corner of a white Toyota Sienna we go East on I-80 looking over our shoulders at the valley full of all the moments of my babies being born and all the driving back and forth to houses full of people we love, and so many warm afternoons with our toes in the cool water of City Creek, or running the brick path through our very own Narnia between Main and State just above North Temple.

We look north, straining to catch the spires of the Temple that is so off center in the sprawling valley and so dead center in the scheme of it all. From those spires it is just a bit to the west and only a few blocks north where, if you are a person who has climbed to the top of Ensign Peak, you will see the green trees lining the streets that take your eyes to the chapel at 8th North and 12th West wherein lies the heart of Rose Park. Wherein lies my heart. But only for that last fleeting moment before Parley's Canyon closes in around us and we live in Salt Lake City no more.

Oh Cheyenne, Lincoln, Chicago, Cincinnati, I admit, I am content to leave your hotels, your Steak and Shake, your Wendy's, your countless gas stations, your badlands and bad breakfasts. I can drive past your many hundreds of miles of corn stalks and not feel the pine of leaving it all behind. I am still raw from parting with Isaiah's blossoming desert. Every mile I have put between myself and the place "at the top of the mountains" makes rosier the lens through which I see it.

Oh Utah, had I the facility of a welsh tongue, I would christen you the source of my own "hiraeth" that weighs heavy in my bosom, like a tether, like an apron string pulled taught and straining inside me.

But straining as they are, these apron strings loosen well enough when finally, after five days of in and out and drive and drive we tumble out into Palmyra's green humid hills, into my sister's house, into my Mother's arms. Ah, I see, home has traveled with us without my even knowing it.


July 24th, no coincidental day of pioneering, brought us all the way to a little clearing along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Buena Vista is an afterthought to the places we call towns and cities. At dusk we arrive with just enough light to drive by the new, red brick house that will buttress all our efforts at familial life. It is our refuge, just as soon as we turn it inside out with enough elbow grease to render it Matthew's "bane" no longer. It needs work . . . and love . . . but mostly work with a stern voice and a hand on the hip.

April 7th was the last night I put all my babies in all their beds and felt like a fit mother for offering them stability and peace. 144 nights of musical beds followed, that mostly consisted of a blanket and a pillow on someone's floor. Tonight they lay their heads on their own pillows and sink softly into new mattresses with crisp, clean linens knowing that whether it is Virginia, New York, cursed Wyoming, or blessed Utah, home is in the bosom of their parent's love, which has a surprisingly pliant circumference.


aubtobobtolob said...

thank you ever so for hearing my need and filling it up.

Brian said...

This is beautiful, Jess. Makes me tired just thinking about you guys wandering from bed to bed--not with stone pillows for the pilgrims, but Wendy's pseudofood, which, I think, after the charm of fat and salt wore off, would have made even Jacob throw up. Glad you're home.

Camille Wheatley said...

Dearest Jessica, your sweet thoughts tug at my heart strings. We miss you and your lovely family so much and think of you often. I hope you will continue to share your experiences as only you can tell them. I'm so glad to hear that you've found a new place to call home and hope that the "bane" will soon wane into gain. Okay, so that was pretty lame. :)

Unknown said...

I lament the metaphysics of home. Your home now is a house inhabited by another family. Or the flip side: your family now occupies a house that will turn into a home, I hope. As glad as I felt when I saw people in 1010 this evening, I regret all the busyness that kept me from being one of those people more often.

Schmea Magee said...

My floor is always open. Gracie and I miss you all sharing it with us.

Les said...

Christy doesn't often cry when reading blogs, but she did last night while reading yours.

We love and miss you, but cheers to the widening circumference!

Jennifer said...


I've missed your words. I love how they sound in my head.

NewtonWayne said...

I have always loved Dennis Miller as a comic and Stephen Donaldson as an author because each of them has, at times, forced me to reference an O.E.D. I'm so pleased that you have joined such an esoteric group.

Christy said...

So good to hear from you! It's true what he said, I read it twice, once for me and once out loud to Les, and I cried for both. Welcome home.