Sonic Youth

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.

About me


What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
When You’re Not the Fixer
October 24, 2015
Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
Findings: the Parent Circle, the gifts, and the simpler thing
March 13, 2015
Women Set Apart
February 23, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
Embrace the Awkward
April 09, 2014


Cassie Boorn
Reply October 13, 2010

I feel silly commenting on this because I cannot say in words what this made me feel in my heart.

    Reply October 13, 2010

    yeah but thanks for doing it because I'm not really sure what I just did. Thank you, Cassie.

Reply October 13, 2010

(I am glad you followed your heart and posted it!)

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.

This, this put words on something I've been struggling with for a long time. Thank you for the clarity.

I think that's why story telling is so important- and listening- because it is in these stories, in is in the Story, that we find the blurry edges of our identity, moving ever closer (I hope) to the ultimate Story Teller. But we can't move towards there if we never speak, if we never hear, if we never see all the stories written across the sky and street for us, wherever it is that we are.

...I love hearing your blesses.

Reply October 13, 2010

I've never met you. I know you, as well as you know these little comments I've only begun to write.

Yet, I knew you were going to write this. I knew you were going to be brave.

And I knew you'd write it this well, this beautifully meticulous crafting of words.

The tale, the dagger, the lesson you couldn't see coming.

So when it's read, it delights, then pierces, then astounds.

I wait for your posts now, like a kitten waits for a piece of string to move. You'd think a kitten would know what to do with a string.

But when the words come, the string wriggles, all I can do is stare.

Blessed, indebted, thankful.

Mishelle Lane
Reply October 13, 2010

Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

We are so kindred it's not even funny.

cassie O.
Reply October 13, 2010

To me that was soul speak.

Reply October 13, 2010

I feel the same way about my friends from high school. I love them. I feel like they are family and maybe some are eccentric but it is what it is.
The sonic boom? Genius.

Reply October 13, 2010

You spoke to my heart and to my past and to a place in my soul I've been trying to reach. Thank you for being vulnerable.

Elizabeth @claritychaos
Reply October 13, 2010

They do stay with us, I know this. And you are right about the youth bleeding into the older age. It doesn't even come close to a break.

(Love the Sonic Youth reference, too. I think I had the same flannel and converse, by the way.)

    Reply October 13, 2010

    Ah, and Elizabeth, you know Sonic Youth. Now that touches my heart!

Reply October 14, 2010

Amber, I am just in a puddle over here.And it is not why I thought it would be after reading this. Man, our roads to this point sound the same. (in so many ways) Usually, when I mill over my youth and "go there" with music or visiting an old stomping ground I am a melancholy fool. Today when I read these familiar words of yours, I felt struck to tears by mercy. For both of us. I am in complete awe and praising the One who plucked us out of that hole. The people who came to my mind from those times, they are still there.

Reply October 14, 2010

Oh, and I forgot to say that I love them so much it hurts, still.

    Reply October 14, 2010

    Jessica, I've spent too long a time looking back and hissing, nearly afraid to acknowledge love. I thought that was what protected me from falling off the deep end.

    That isn't the truth at all, though. Every one of us that I know of have worked hard to survive here in the ways we know how, and over that, I do indeed have mercy - just as I imagine some might look here and see a fool for believing the way she does, but there's grace in the empathy.

    The truth is that at one point I was so far gone that I believed I would die, and I just waited around for it to happen. We are all made of the same adam-stock. Mercy is required, because sons and daughters of Eve can't survive without it.

Reply October 14, 2010

This was serious good. I know that I'm "supposed" to say that, what with the wedding ring and all, but I mean it.

I know a few of us in the room loved the same way, but our smokey rooms were different. Contrived clouds of incense and religious pretense. The love on the other side of the contrived (or emotive) is so much better. But the contrived (or emotive) doesn't go away. 'Tis true.

These are the moments where I wish the Common Guild was back up and running. I wish Brock-star and Hamster would wander by. They'd both have good stories.

Now to Him who is able to keep us...

Reply October 14, 2010

Thank you for reminding me of the broken road that I traveled to this place.

Reply October 14, 2010

One more thing, a question,... I often struggle with what "that life" that I lived means for me as a mom. I too, feel the hissing surface and I know that it often causes me to take cover when it comes to parenting my children. Fear.

    Reply October 14, 2010

    All I know is to tell the truth considering their age as I do it. That's all I know.

John Ray
Reply October 14, 2010


There are some things that we feel so deeply we fear for our fingers to touch the keys... or to click to open the email. Thanks for having the courage to write it.

Susan Gilchrist
Reply October 14, 2010

You do not know me nor I you, but your authentic poetry has encouraged me to live my life as your words do....UNVEILED

To Think Is To Create
Reply October 18, 2010

Ah friend. You have me wanting to unearth my own past...something I've never talked about to current friends, much less written about. I think I was happy it was back there. Behind. Even though as you said, it colors the now, regardless.

It's pressing into the windows now though, waving and pretending we left on good terms.

Reply April 29, 2014

I wrote yesterday to one whom I handed the first joint -- stole her and her little friends off to the fields above Carp Park, before a movie while a crowd played volleyball there. Peiter, from our younger days glided into a tree and died instantly. She responded that she loved him more than all the rest -- having just left her new husband with wee child -- and that life was strange in its passing. Yes, so strange, for somehow along the way we end up choosing who to leave and what we will keep. It all bleeds together, though, and I think the rapture may be no less when I hear from afar that it is all still as it was. So many have died, and as you said, they just kept on careening towards that end, never slowing after the season's should have changed. It is so good to be understood.

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