I went to *BlissDom again this year, to Gaylord ‘s grand Opryland hotel, a place I’ve hailed since childhood, always torn between Hee Haw and Solid Gold. A half week goes by, and we don’t breathe outside air. We look up. See glass ceiling. Walk miles and miles round. We dance part way round. We talk words, some of us inhaling deep, winging ourselves clear to the roof. Some of us do believe in the unseen. We’ve got gypsy hearts. We hover at the glass, nearly see the hills.
And then I got out in the sun, and farmer’s almanac says “unsettling,” and that’s how I feel but without a sense of dread, more of missing. I walk in a store made of barn parts. I squeeze the neck of a glass juice bottle until it drops and pops the lid, and I catch it half full. The counter lady wouldn’t have anything to do with my paying for a half empty bottle.
Half is all I need.
I got to my Alabama home to the running boys who had made a fort in the sage grass. It was a fort made for Summers, and a cat they named Tom slid in and out the grass walls. We sneezed a hundred times, and then we went to bed. I slept 10 hours solid.
On the way home I ate sweet tarts and raced an ice storm, and right before I won, the Ozark mountains shawled themselves in a thick white wool, and I pressed toward the glass to see a hair more into the evening.
We came home to home. Seth cooked sweet potatoes, and we pulled the real Jude out of our middle child. We like the real him, when he smiles for no reason but the lego box.
There’s more to the story: the green couch, the serenity of a bedtime routine. There are the boys shoving at their own sink and then the married couple together after 10 days apart. There is alone-laughter at sillinesses that only the far-away goofy ones know, the ones that have seen you make your best worst faces.
There are the birds that break through somehow and fly for the mountains, the gypsy who gets to feel home a hundred different ways.