There's no place like home....

Surprisingly, I didn't bawl my eyes out.  I went Mama and Daddy's.....for the last time.  Packed 'em up and moved 'em here with me.  And didn't cry.  Any of you that know me, know that I cry over most everything meaningful.  Weddings. New babies.  Sweet letters.  Everybody home for the weekend.  Holding hands.  And loads of other non-meaningful things.  I cry.  Except this time.  I thought I would lose it.  But I didn't.

In spite of the memories that nearly suffocated me as I drove through my hometown.  Visited some haunts.  Walked around my yard. Slept in "my room" for the last time.

Sweet memories.  The house on Flat Shoals.  The yard seemed smaller and the trees were bigger than the pictures in my memory bank.  Pictures of snow ball fights and football in the front yard.  Countless sleepovers across the street at Lisa's.  Years of summers spent at the pool with DeeAnn and Natalie.  Baby oil and iodine.  Oh yes.  Homemade peach ice cream on the back porch. Impromptu fashion shows with Teresa. Backyard baseball games where Sinbad and Chief had to man the bases while Elaine and Teresa and I were at bat.  Crawling through the pipes that went under the road to the field that Robert and his friends and I may or may not have set on fire once..... The huge window that absorbed a fly ball but got replaced before we had to tell my Mom...

Down the road to my school.  11 years I spent on that same property.  With pretty much the same fabulous folks.  The baseball field where my brother stood on the pitcher's mound throwing some pretty awesome left-handed curve balls.  And that spot just over the fence behind home plate where my Mom nervously pulled up all the grass as she watched him.  The cafeteria and Mrs. Dees incredible cinnamon rolls. The room where Choraliers practiced and puddles of perspiration melted below my hands.  The basketball court that was full of cheers and crowns and One Act Play and graduation speeches. 

Towards town.  Past the tennis courts where Mama wouldn't let me hang out.  And the Lions Club center where I took ballet and went to parties and one time in Junior High Cathy and I hid in the kitchen during a party because we suspected some of the older crowd had something to drink and we were scared.  (For the record, we never saw it but we were too scared to check it out and I recall being very relieved when her Mom showed up to take us home!)  Cross the street to Coy's house where Natalie and I enjoyed a lot of biscuits and fried chicken.  To the drugstore where I mopped the back room while Mama did the books and Daddy filled prescriptions or provided medical care in the absence of a town physician.  Eventually I graduated to wrapping gifts and waiting on customers but never promoted out of dusting duty.

In one direction was the Gulf gas station where I came to believe that everybody got their gas pumped and windows washed.  Imagine my abject shock when I went to college and nobody ran out to serve me at the local Chevron.  I still have a hard time filling up my own tank.....

In the other direction was Mr. Jack's grocery store where you didn't need a credit card when you said "charge it".  The only hamburgers I would eat for over a decade.  And to the bank.  Kara spent her summers there helping her Dad, while I was across the street dusting bottles.  I still remember when the bank was on the corner, just down from the drugstore.  Before they built their new building across from the post office.  Where we had a box that you opened with a secret combination, not a key. 

On down the road was the church where I was baptized, sang in the youth choir, giggled through some sermons on the back row, and stood on the front steps with my Daddy while Terry straightened out my long white train and 400 of my dearest friends waited on me inside one hot September Day.

I drove past Mrs. Key's house where I learned to play piano.  (That was her name.  Seriously)  And Mrs. Chunn's house.  Mrs. Clements. Mrs. Gill.  Mrs. Adkins.  Miss Lib. Mrs. Mitchell.  Miss Williams. Mrs. Elliott. Mrs. Walton. Mrs. Copeland.   Mrs. Fowler. Mrs. Tweed.  Mrs. Barnes.  Coaches Holcombe and Westerfield. Mr. Moore.  Mr. Love. Mr. Helton. Teachers that left marks of kindness and love on my life. 

White House Parkway. Walking out to a cozy car on cold mornings cuz my Daddy had gotten there first to warm it up. Coming home from college late at night but knowing Mama would still be up waiting for me.  Still sharing a room on Christmas Eve with my brother until we were old enough to play Santa Claus ourselves.  Crowding around our dining room table with Amanda and Megan to celebrate the holidays.  The gazebo that housed my wedding cake to feed a yard spilling over with guests. Kittens being born outside my bedroom window.  Bringing my babies "home" and soaking up the serenity I desperately craved.  Seven grandkids taking turns racing through the trees on the golf cart...until finally Papa rigged it to slow it down a bit. Dogwoods blooming in the spring.  Two taps on the horn every time we pulled into the driveway...or out.

Tsunamis of memories and feelings consumed me.  Gratitude for a idyllic childhood.  Treasures of friendships.  But only a few tears instead of the hurricane I expected.  But I knew why.

There was no need for tears because, for me, home's not a place.  It's people.  It's where my family is.  Wherever that may be.

 And I came back here to bring home back with me.