I went home again –
the mountain, saw the vertical beams of our gymnasium overlooking the hills, all the slight spreading of red at the fingertips of maples. The sun was hot, but the air had a glaze of cool in it, picking up little hairs and standing them on end.
I bought a bag of cotton candy with four tickets at the harvest festival, and I stood to the side and watched a woman sweat into some popular funnel-cake batter. A band played, “I’ll Fly Away.” I tapped my fingers against my leg. We sang, too, quietly. Ian bounced at the knees, the song he knows well, and we held hands and smiled.
I saw my cousin there. We love each other – even though the conversation began in a polite howdy and ended in a nondescript embrace. We don’t come out and say anything we know of things passed. He’s the first person that read poetry to me, first person to hand me a joint, to make me laugh so hard at nothing, we in Converse shoes and flannel shirts, we inhaling right about the time emo kids were being potty trained. He knows well the trouble I borrowed back then, the trouble I felt right for borrowing, confirming my brokenness.
I’m back in Arkansas now, and my cousin emailed me yesterday explaining the death (another one) of one of our friends. It happened two years ago, and I didn’t even know. I reeled all night about those friends, the ones still rocking life, how I loved them and didn’t know well then how to show it.
Now that I’ve moved away, had my own babies, and believed in Jesus, becoming someone I never ever thought I would be, Home is a sick sweet identity scrambler, a rolling scene with sight and sound alarms for the memory. So much of my life has been defined by who I love, and with love, a heart doesn’t divide, but rather it multiplies – as when a child is added to a family.
I will never not love the ones who gathered in the side room in the smoke cloud, Mad Season.
You think when you’re young that if you live long enough to get better, the old will somehow break off, and you’ll look back and call it Sonic Youth. Boom, then gone. But what I’ve learned is that your youth never stops bleeding into our older age. Not even fear keeps it from happening.
To the young: Love well while you can, and let who you love be those you want to keep with you forever. Because they do stay with you.
While still in Alabama, I drove by Robbie’s road, and I thought he must still live there, and I smiled and wished him well. So many of us lost ourselves in the same exact place we thought we had been found. Home can be like that, limbo – a balance between love and lost.