Saturday, January 16, 2010

Places Called Home

“We had come home and if home was not what we had expected, never mind, our need for belonging allowed us to ignore the obvious and to create real places, or even illusory places, befitting our imagination.”Maya Angelou

Her husband worked at the hospital around the block from my house and said there was no such thing as a Lesser Cathedral District and she chided me for having given her faulty information as we sat having coffee. Looking out the window at passing traffic, I reflected: I knew it existed; I lived there. The neighbors all lived there. John lived under a porch there. Lorie walking through with all she owned in the bags she carried about with her was acquainted with every stray kitten there. We all knew it was so. I thought about trying to convince her that what I knew to be so was so, but – instead – I let it be. We had our coffee and she told how she once took plywood, cardboard and a steak knife and built a fireplace where there wasn’t one before. It occurred to me that a woman like that would figure out what was so on her own; she would know it was so when she saw what had been made there for herself because faith is, after all, a very tactile thing at times.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Grandmother's Eyes

“She had that spontaneous quality of aliveness which illuminates people who have already done a lot of their dying, and I think I am beginning to understand the truth of that.”
Madeleine L’Engle, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother

From the first moments that I can clearly remember, where ever she was – and that was usually the house at 3910 Smith - it felt safe. She is gone, after a fashion, but I will always remember: A house near the river that smelled of popcorn and clean laundry in the winter and lilacs and fresh-cut grass in the summer, the sounds of the evening news and passing trains and – always at the center of all – her blue eyes and warm smile. I have never gone back to the house after it sold; I suppose that way I can believe nothing has changed.