You Can’t Go Home Again… Or Can You?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .
I haven’t spent much time on the farm in Georgia this year. It’s harder now that I’m divorced. I’m really not allowed to go there alone. Really.
If I showed up without the girls, my parents wouldn’t be too thrilled, but I have the kids on alternate weekends, so that’s only half the opportunities as usual.
When school’s in session, months will go by when the girls have school activities that require their weekends, sometimes the whole weekend and out of town so that not only do they miss an opportunity to visit their grandparents, but I don’t get to see them either. This is always the case on my birthday, damn it. Every year.
And to top it all off, I had too many deadlines between June and September to take any out-of-town trips at all.
For a while, I’d found an alternative on Jeaneen’s farm in Mossy Head. Walking barefoot in her woods and through the horse pastures gave me that sense of serenity I missed on the farm. It reminded me of home, but without having to deal with my Father Issues. Then I spent less time on Jeaneen’s horse farm and no time at all in the wilds of Georgia, and the absence of home began to grate on my soul.
I didn’t realize how much I missed the farm until I spent Labor Day weekend walking the deer trails along the creek behind my parents’ barn, watching the stars in the bowl of heaven at twilight, and catching glimpses of fireflies across the late Summer grasses.
There’s something about home that strikes a deep chord in most people, even if it’s not the wide open spaces I grew up in. And there are times when going home again is important to the healing process.
It’s not uncommon for college graduates to find themselves back in their parents’ house, back in the bedroom where they spent their teen years, complete with posters of KISS or hang-in-there-kitties or rainbows. I did it myself. It was a safe retreat at a time when I wasn’t able to find a job in my chosen career field…at least not one that paid more than minimum wage. My boyfriend didn’t seem particularly interested in whether I stayed or left, so I left.
I went back home, broke and feeling unwanted. I enrolled in graduate school, got a job that didn’t pay well but had some fun perks (except for the sexual predators), and saved a good chunk of change. I started investing in stocks then when I was only 21 and learning all I could about personal finance. My boyfriend decided he missed me after all, and we got engaged. I still had lots of local farm boys knocking on my door, but I wasn’t interested. I stayed with my parents for just under two years, got acquainted with the folks on an adult-to-adult level, felt better about my life and where I was going, and moved back to Florida to marry and launch a career. Looking back, that time at home was important.
I see the same with lots of newly single moms who pack up the kids and head back to Mom and Dad’s for a few months or even years. In general, they have financial woes to sort out and need some good old fashioned nurturing that you just can’t get from anyone but your mama. After a while, they feel comfortable again, and they can springboard back into society or the workplace or a new home or even into love.
Retreating to home after a disappointment or a tragedy or a heartbreak or just not knowing which way to go seems like a common call for those in search of healing and comfort. For me, after my divorce, I didn’t seek out the comfort of going back to my childhood bedroom—which had the girlie pink princess curtains my mom installed when she’d told me I could pick out what I wanted for my 10th birthday and then reneged when I chose a horrific purple. In the past few years, as my parents have aged and their health has failed, I’ve tended to do more of the nurturing and over-protecting where they’re concerned. And right after my divorce, I didn’t really have any of that left to give.
But whether they were able to give comfort—they did in their own way, even with Daddy getting down on the porch floor with me to pick peanuts off vines for boiling and taking home for the girls—the place I always found healing was not in the house I grew up in but in the fields I roamed as a barefoot girl.
To this day, the best sense of home and of being grounded that I can find is a walk through those pastures and Granddaddy’s woods, along the creek, down by the old fishpond, amid the mayhaw bushes, under the sprawling oaks, through the tall grass, around the orchards, into the pines where the deer hide, across the plundered cotton fields where the coyotes bark at night, under a starry sky filled with meteors and fireflies and moonlight.
These are special places where I have taken the girls and there are other special places where I want to take them still. Special places where eventually I’ll take someone just as special to share these treasures.
There I feel most at one with all of Nature, with the Universe, with Deity. There I find enough of a dose of healing that I know I’ll be able to rejoin the world soon after.
There I hear the voice of the Gods in the symphony of crickets, whippoorwills, night owls, cicadas, and frogs, and it feels like home.