Sing Us Home

We drove down the interstate, through the tiny towns and long stretches of freshly fertile farms. The Civil Wars sang us home.

The winding roads that led me here
Burn like coal and dry like tears
So here’s my hope, my tired soul
Here’s my ticket, I want to go

Tears streamed under my sunglasses. I fought the ride and the compass with everything I had. We had fought that morning in a way we never fight. I put on my shoes to leave. My hand grasped the door and ugliness won. I hated everything in that moment, and the world was swallowed up in grief again.

I didn’t want to go south, but we did. The only thing I could hear for days had been that last conversation with my uncle, that the beloved house on Pleasant Street that holds the happiest ghosts of my childhood was finally going on the market. It won’t be ours anymore. A new family will move in, will steal the long summer nights and the way the basement door sticks … they’ll always burn themselves on the water from the kitchen sink and their children will splash in the pool and dry off in the gentle New England sun. These new people will probably peel away the large-print stickers from the appliances, that helped my nearly-blind grandmother stumble her way through her beloved kitchen in those last few years. The new kids will slide down the banisters we built so she could still sleep upstairs. They’ll watch tv in the room where Price first told me that he loved me, and they’ll sleep in the room where my grandfather died. They’ll use the toilet where my uncle and I killed a bat … a story that will never, ever end in anything other than uncontrollable laughter, no matter how many times we tell it. And they’ll love it the way we did. Hard, strong, happy love.

It’s been 3 years, and it’s harder now than it ever was.

But south we went last week, to the streets and the shops and the faces that my husband calls home. And I cleaned and scrubbed and washed with a quiet vengeance, every Independence Day memory from Pleasant Street surfacing and my selfishness surrendering to the new family love I’ve found.

As we crossed the bridge to go back to Nashville, he whispered “I feel about here the way you feel about New Hampshire.”

Everything in me broke at those words. He has his home, washed in the sweet memories of his boyhood set against the backdrop of the river. And my girlhood is somewhere else far away, nestled in between the mountains and the lakes. And our fierce loyalty to these different geographies will always tug at our hearts and tear us apart.

But I guess that’s what this is all about … this combining of two lives, two sets of memories and passions and families and mess, that will hopefully someday help us plant the same love of place and time and people into our children’s own hearts.

So here’s my hope, my tired soul
Here’s my ticket, I want to go


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