Sunday, July 31, 2016

Scraps of memories and saying goodbye

Yesterday I walked a piece of land, taking pictures, grasping at memories of the place and people that made me a lot of who I am today.

Someone has made an offer to pay a price for this piece of land and the value they decided it has.  And in less than a month a new owner will take possession, and bring their plans to fruition for this place.

I went for a walk to say my goodbyes and remember, and during that time found scraps of memories I had forgotten I even had.

My children ran around sweating in the summer sun with cousins, then sat under the carport for a bit of shade and occasional breeze.

I silently said goodbye to a rough-edged grandfather, who inadvertantly introduced me to every cuss word I knew in childhood, that would sit under that covering in the cab of his Ford truck to listen to Nascar on Sunday afternoons.  He didn't sit often, because there was always work to be done in the garage, or bush-hogging the field, or trash to burn, or "clothes to slosh".

In the back driveway I found a piece of a plate's edge that reminded me of the way he would pour a bit of his coffee into a saucer to let it cool a bit.

I walked through the house and said goodbye to the sound of a screen-door slamming because of a too-tight spring.  I said goodbye to the sound of Papa's thump and shuffle of feet as he rose early from bed and made his way to the kitchen.  I said goodbye to southern Gospel music from a sometimes staticky radio that sat in the kitchen on top of the refrigerator and played faithfully on Sunday mornings.  I said goodbye to the softness of my Memaw's hum and doughy hands as she patted out biscuits.  I said goodbye to the roundness of her frame by the stove, making early breakfasts, birthday lunches, and spaghetti dinners.

On the front porch, empty now of all furniture, I said goodbye to an evening retreat where the sun would set and the whippoorwill would call, and my hair would be tenderly stroked while I swayed in a wooden porch swing cradled into early adulthood by my grandmother's love.  I said goodbye to neighbors that would drive by and wave, when everyone still new each other.

I walked the yard and said goodbye to memories of cousins crouched in the shade of trees, scratching out houses in the dirt, making lipstick and nailpolish out of used spark plugs.  I said goodbye to mimosa trees that don't stand anymore, but were perfect for young climbers and fueled the imagination with their "peas" for soups, fronds for fans, and silky pink flowers for make-up brushes. I said goodbye to the large propane tank that provided many a wild ride for would-be circus performers.

I went to the shed that once housed a pool table for my uncle and opened the door to breathe in the dusky smell that can only be described as dirt and earth.  It reminded me of freshly plowed fields and my Papa speeding around the yard on the lawnmower, slinging more dust than cutting grass.  Which reminded me of my Memaw trying to hurriedly pull clothes of the line before he got to the back yard.

I thought of a shed that once stood with a plum tree and pokeweed growing beside it and the amazing smear of blueish red juice the berries made when "painted" on the back wall.

I said goodbye to the garage, with its grease smells and grime, the stains of oil marking the ground around it and testifying to the wounded vehicles brought in for rehabilitation, the sounds of various cars, chain clatter of the engine hoist, the grease smudged phone on the wall, and sparks flying during occasional welding.  I said goodbye to "legging" brakes for some change, cranking a car and pressing the gas to keep it idling around the 3 on the rpm dial.  I said goodbye to the mechanics and men that were made in this space.

I said goodbye to the dirt driveway across the road, school bus stops, and first driving lessons when I hit double digits.  I said goodbye to the open field that led to my great-grandmother's house, that gave me my first tastes of independence as a preschooler when I would run groceries out to her.

I said my goodbyes, and others are doing the same, at the same place with their own memories.  We each walked this piece of land and dwelt in the houses, wrapped in our own bodies and with different experiences.  Some of the memories we hold of this place and the people who were here with us are hurtful, some healing, and some holy.  But now, we take our scraps of memories and each say our goodbyes.