Dorothy sang about it. She crooned that, somewhere “over the rainbow” a land that she’d heard of existed. Something better than what she had, which was a black and white world where mean old biddies came and took innocent little doggies, because they could.
Two hours later, or a little more, Dorothy had the whole thing figured out. She clicked her heels together and said what we’d all like to believe, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
My daughter came over today. She brought my grandson with her and that alone made her visit doubly-good. Like an Oreo with extra cream in the middle. While here, she ate a little something out of our refrigerator. She always does. We no longer live in the house she grew up in and the fridge is no longer the one she opened time and again during those years, but she somehow thinks she has rights to the new one in the new place, nonetheless.
After she’d eaten, she went into the master bath–the one where she keeps an extra toothbrush–to brush her teeth.
As instructed on previous visits, she leaves the toothbrush out to “dry.” Once it has, I slip a cover over it and put it back where it goes. Where it will always go. Because, whether she lives here or not, whether she grew up in this house or not … wherever her father and I dwell, she will always have a home.
So I got to thinking about it. The house I grew up in is now owned by my brother. Although I no longer call it “Mama’s” and now call it “Van’s” it will always be “home” for me. No matter where I go. No matter how many houses or apartments or caves I live in. That house at that address will always be home.
When I go for a visit–about twice or three times a year–I stay for a week. Typically now, I go alone. I used to go with the kids. Occasionally with the husband. But … not any more. My brother and I hang out. We watch TV. We eat. We drive all over the county looking for those historical signs that say things like “Washington Slept Here” and “The 20th Confederate Regimen Crossed Here.” My favorite “find” was the place along the Savannah River where the new settlers crossed over from the Carolinas to make Georgia Home. The place remembered as Burton’s Ferry. Van and I spent nearly an hour exploring the banks of the river, imagining what it might have been like for those first folks who braved a whole new way of life.
I keep a toothbrush at my brother’s. A bottle of body lotion. A can of hair spray. I don’t know why. I just do. I suppose, like my daughter, I need to leave something of myself–something normal and a part of my every day–so that my claim is still staked there.
Maybe I just don’t like to pack so much stuff.
Or maybe I don’t want the house to forget me. I don’t believe it has.
The last time I went there, I noticed–for the first time in years–that my growth chart remains on the doorjamb of my old closet door. I haven’t lived there since the mid-1970s, but by gosh there is a chart showing that I grew up. Right there. In that house. Against a doorjamb.
Dorothy was right. As soon as I graduated from high school, I went looking over the rainbow, but in the end, there’s no place like home.