Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't Look Back

I've been having a crying jag today. Don't be alarmed! It happens to me every once in awhile. It does me good to have an emotionally cleansing moment.

How did this crying jag happen? I blame it on Facebook. I joined Facebook more than a year ago and had no interest in it at all. I rarely visited it and had two friends for months there. But lately, some of my friends and relatives have been adding me as friends, so I've visited there more often.

Within the last two weeks though I've had contact with several people from the past. Mostly friends of my children. They are grown now with families and careers of their own, but each one who has added me as a friend has let me know that they remember me. One girl said I was a refuge to her when she needed it and another said my house was the place to be.

Our house sure was the place to be. There were always children there, spending the night, swimming in the pool, watching tv. But when my husband left me in 1993 and my children were approaching their teenage years, it was crawling with kids.

My thought was that I would rather have them at my house then anywhere else, so I let them hang out at our house. Hang out they did! There were basketball games in the driveway, ping pong tournaments in the basement, bon fires in the back yard. When I rented a video I would be assured that there would be 8 or 9 kids sprawled out all over the couches, chairs and floor in my living room. In the morning some of those same kids would still be there, sleeping in the recliner or crashed out on the couch. My living room always had the aroma of hot fries and Slurpee's. 7/11 was a few blocks away and before they got to drive, my kids were allowed to walk there for snacks. When my first son got his license, the favorite food was Taco Bell.

Once I had 19 boys and girls, ages 12 through 14, stay the night at our house. I barely slept that night, trying to chaperon them. I'll never forget the scene in the living room, where all the kids sat, smashed together on couches and chairs. They were laughing and talking, (and of course, eating). When they finally fell asleep, I stepped over boys and girls, pillows and sleeping bags that were lined up and down the hallways, living room and dining room. I sat in the recliner like a watch dog, nodding in and out of sleep. Even though I was lenient, I wasn't permissive.

Once, a girl stayed with us for a few days. I didn't care for her, but my daughter begged me, so I allowed it. I made enough tacos to last two days and on the second day our "guest" said to me, "Tacos again?".

"Who are you!?" I practically hissed at her. I then insisted that she call her mother and that I needed to talk to her. Sure enough, the girl had run away from home and was "hiding" at our house. After that, whenever she asked to spend the night, I made sure to talk to mom.

Sometimes, in the mornings, when I would assess the living room, littered with food wrappers and sleep over guests, I would get angry. Sometimes those visitors would be witness to that anger. But, it didn't matter. They still came back, they called me mom, and sometimes, they even helped around the house.

To this day, several of them still call me mom and we have stories we like to reminisce about. We had the hottest house on the block (no air conditioning), yet, no matter what the temperature was, someone would be there, asking to spend the night or eat dinner with us.

I had to sell that house 10 years ago. Sometimes I wished I could have held on to it. But, I had to mortgage it to pay my x husband his share, and the payments were too high for me. It was a sad time for my kids and I. I remember the last time I looked at it, as I walked out of it for the final time. On the wall, by the back door, were measurements that the boys had started to mark on the wall. I had tried to harden my heart about leaving it. It's just a house, I told myself.

But it was more than that and I realize that now, especially when someone from the past reminds me of what it meant to them.

There's a line from Gone With The Wind that always touches my heart.

Ashley Wilkes says to Scarlett..

Yes, we've traveled a long road since the old days,
haven't we, Scarlett? All the lazy days...and the
warm, still, country twilight...the high soft Negro
laughter from the quarters...the golden warmth, and
security of those days.

And Scarlett says to him..

Don't look back, Ashley Don't look back. It drags at
your heart till...till you can't do anything but look

1 comment:

dctm said...

This is so sweet. I have a daughter that loves for her friends to come over and I know my husband and I sometimes fuss about the mess they make and staying up all night. But, at least I know where they all are!

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