Feb 18, 2009


{In reference to the last post}

As a young girl my family travelled each summer. We stayed in the US and we drove to each destination, stopping along the way to see various historic sites and monuments. My parents believed that travelling (especially by car) was one of the best ways to educate yourself. We visited obscure places that most of my friends had never been - Lititz, PA (the home of the first commercial pretzel bakery in the US), the Cumberland Gap, the Appomattox Courthouse, and so on.

Some of my favorite memories were of us driving to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There was something about that drive that spoke to me. The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains. The green hills. The rural towns. One afternoon, we pulled off into a small town in Virgina (small as in a population of only about 1200)  so we could fill up the car with gas and get out to stretch our legs after a long drive. Everything seemed so small. So simple. One gas station. One grocery store. Every home had a front porch, and every porch had someone sitting on it. I was 16 years old at the time, and in that stage in life when I wondered about my future. What would I do for a living? Would I get married? Have children? Where would I live? I envisioned life in this small town. It wasn't the quaint town with a bustling Main Street. It wasn't the small town where people hang their American flags and celebrate the Fourth of July with a big parade and picnic. Norman Rockwell it wasn't. It was just...small. The men worked and the women raised the children. People drove rusted pick-up trucks and shopped at the nearby K-Mart. There was no mall. No fancy clothes. No upscale restaurants. It was the epitome of a rural, southern community.

As we waited for my dad to finish up at the gas station, I rolled down the window to get some air. In the distance, I heard a train roll through town. I imagine people heard that on a regular basis as they went to work or played with their children in their front yards.

I don't know why this image - this town - stuck with me for all these years. It has remained a symbol of a simple life, a life that I don't lead right now. Yes, my life is a lot simpler than it could be, but I still deal with the daily stress of work, parenting, and financial obligations that have gone off track. The competition with neighbors about who has the nicest lawn or cleanest garage. The competition with friends about who has the nicest clothes or car. I know I shouldn't feel that way, but I do.

When I heard the train early this morning, I closed my eyes and imagined that small town in Virginia. I imagined a simpler life - rocking Griffin to sleep on the front porch, in the early dusk of a warm summer night. For that brief moment I forgot about bills and grants. I forgot about the mess in my kitchen and that we once again don't have enough money to pay our mortgage. Instead, I imagined living in that town and listening to the train pass through as we sleep with the windows open, a light breeze blowing the curtains. Babies safe and asleep. No worries. A simple life.

1 comment:

Jason said...

You are amazing.