A Story About Me

Wednesday , 13, July 2016 Leave a comment

A week ago I returned home from a trip to Iowa to visit family and spend time with my mom.  History has shown that, in between these trips, I mindlessly forget how vital it is for me to reconnect with my family there.  Trying to capture those feelings, I wrote the following on my flight home (on scraps of paper and the backs of boarding passes).
This time around, I think my heart will remember.

A Story About Me

This is the story of a journey taken for my heart and for my soul.
It’s a story about family–about my tribe.

This is a story about me.

This is a story about people who are always happy to see me, no matter the time passed or the distance between us. About people who’ve known me my whole life but who I’m, in many cases, just truly meeting forIowa family 2 the first time. People with whom I share blood or bond. People who come from the same earth as me. People who squeeze me tight and welcome my often too-tight squeezes. It’s about people who wrap my soul in their love and remind me iowa-baileythat, despite my visits being short and infrequent, I’ll always have a place. A place to return to—a place of safety and love.

It’s about the beauty in the everyday: Bailey stomping her feet to entice me to play, a mug left out for this late-riser, just enough coffee left in the pot to fill it.  About new houses that feel like home, and about the gentle but persistent flickering of lightning bugs as night falls.

Iowa sunset 2It’s a story about the iowa-sunsetsunsets made beautiful by God’s hand–and about those made exquisite by the unplanned car ride seeking the perfect photo, or by the feel of soft grass beneath me and the quiet murmur of conversation behind me.

It’s the sight of Grandma and Grandpa’s old farm house—so familiar, yet oddly distant, among trees grown strong and tall over time and pastures long ago consumed by nature’s wild.

Iowa eveningIt’s the bluest sky I’ve ever seen complemented by the most vibrant red flowers on the street.  It’s the smiles on faces near me—each person understanding, without words, the rarity of our almost purely perfect evening.

It’s the scent of the petunias as I breathe in the beauty around me.  It’s the familiar smell of locally-made bug spray and the remnants of burnt bottle rockets.  It’s the smell of summer in the Midwest that hangs heavily on the humid, still air.

This is the story about a magical bowl of peanut mnms that is always full no matter how many handfuls I eat.  It’s about the cold can of beer that shows up just as the previous one is emptied.

This is a story about memories.  About tire swings and an outhouse at the end of a spider-strewn gauntlet of grape vines.  About recalling the last time we got together.  It’s about moments spent reflecting on our love for people no longer physically with us. It’s about visiting the cemetery and knowing that, in actuality, those we’ve lost are never far away.

It’s about the joy on faces of old and young at the patriotic parade.  It’s aboutIowa Parade kindness shown by the youngest of strangers—and about showing kindness to the oldest.  Because it’s what we do.

It’s the feel of small town America on the 4th of July.  Where it’s ok to act like a kid again and where everyone’s sweet dog might as well be my own.  It’s about talking to anyone and everyone amid the safety of small town celebration.

It’s visits that I don’t initially feel like making, only to find that I’m lucky to have been invited along.  It’s realizing my connection to people I hardly know—and realizing how beautifully blessed they make me.

Iowa JanetIt’s a story about the sounds of “purt-near” and “katywhompus.”  The sound of beer cans opening, stories about “the law,” and learning the best way to get rid of old shoes.  It’s hearing Janet warn, “you better watch it, kid!”  It’s about getting an update on everyone in town as their golf carts whiz past.  It’s about the sound of music throughout the day.  The sound of catching up, and the sound of reminiscing.

This is a story about conversations that didn’t happen, too—about witnessing the difficult but powerful and graceful decision to move on without answers or closure.  It’s about finding a way to love people despite themselves, because sometimes that’s what being family means.

This is a story about ending up in places we never dreamed—and meeting there kindred spirits willing to share their world with us.  It’s exploring the widow watch and imagining others’ lives from days past.  It’s about ancient an washing machine and a giant dog named Newman who sits on furniture like the human he thinks he is.

Iowa beer

It’s about unexpected fits of silliness: photos with a menagerie of hats, beer cozies with perfect Iowa hatssayings, a little dog who almost climbed in my bag to go home with me, and a giant dog that needed an entire car just to get around.  It’s about laughing to the point of tears over drippy water balloons.  About washing the same spot on the kitchen floor over and over, and Iowa Big Dogabout Mom being called a brat.

It’s learning what it means Iowa Family 1when someone is “well-known” in town.  It’s discovering that the culprit for much of my quirkiness is “the Dutch!” and finding that “we’re making memories” applies to a wide variety of settings.

This is a story about experiencing life with my mom.  About bearing witness toIowa Me n Mom reunions with old friends and family and the story-telling that flows naturally from those reunions.  About hearing my mom’s laughter—not just in the moment, but also echoing through the stories of the days long before I arrived.  It’s about learning from her grace under pressure and her seemingly effortless patience and kindness to others.  About long walks and important talks.  About her understanding my needs and my unique way of moving through the world.  It’s about making precious memories with a best friend.

This is a story about a soul that’s been hurting.  About a soul that’s felt lost and alone for almost too long to bear.  It’s the story of a soul reawakened by the love of family who doesn’t care what she looks like or what she does, so long as she’s home for a visit.

This is a story about going home, but not to the kind of home where I store my belongings. Iowa family 3 It’s not going to the home where my parents reside.

Instead, this is a story about going home to a place where my soul can rest and just be for awhile.  Where my head finally goes quiet and lets my heart lead the way.

This is a story about one of my homes.
It’s a story about family.

This is my story about what it means to be loved.

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