Six Places

Write, Eat, Post, Bathe prompt time again. Six places.

That’s all the direction we got.

Me, standing at the bus stop of my elementary years in Franklin.

1. Franklin, Pennsylvania. I was born there and spent 13 formative years, five of which I lived “in town” until we became country folk and claimed five acres next to my aunt and uncle and grandparents. I always wanted to be a town kid. I loved the idea of walking to the grocery store, to school, to the library (o, the library: my favorite place in that town!) But I dearly loved running down the short hill to my grandmother’s house.

2. Grand Prairie, Texas. Along came the bicentennial celebrations and our big move to a suburban lifestyle and a huge school system. The houses were close together. The summers were brutal. The culture was diverse. My dad acted like he’d been born a Texas; it suited him. I thrived there but it never felt like home. My bones ached for a northern country.

3. Lubbock, Texas. Go Red Raiders and thank God for third place in the Eva Browning Piano competition and a full ride to a music ed degree. I stretched my legs a good bit in Lubbock and grew some decent musical chops. I carried a good bit of regret home with me when I left, but I learned a lot along the way.

4. La Romana, Dominican Republic. Three years, the Abraham Lincoln School, Casa de Campo and a new appreciation of humanity. I fell down and I grew up in the DR. When I came home, I was a new Christ-follower; albeit one who still carried a fairly heavy bucket of crap.

5. Tolar, Hico, Joshua and Fort Worth; central Texas rugged life. All five of my kids were born in this era. Baptist blood was infused into my lifeline in these years, a particular sort of Southwestern Baptist theology that can be appealing and convincing, but one in which I too often fell painfully short of understanding and appreciation. These were the days of big hair, cotton jumpers and t-shirts I painted myself to sell at craft shows. Oh, yes, I did.

6. Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Home; I felt as though I finally made it home. Ohio sang to me, and after a two hour drive my bare feet could slip through the grass in a game of kickball at my grandmother’s house – my old home –Β  in Western Pennsylvania. My kids’ feet traced the paths of my own, three decades earlier. It snowed and spring exploded and summers were too short and the accents and cadences of Eastern European influence was music to my ears. My bucket of crap finally tipped over in Ohio, and all hell broke loose. But there was some sort of safety in the tight connection of the rocks and rivers of the northeast that did not let me go.

You would think that there has to be a seventh place in this list. These days my home is in Virginia, and all is as well as can be expected. But these first six places are ones that I have left behind. And Virginia? As of yet, my memories and my future are tethered here, in this place where my roots run deep just a few generations past. I have some soul history here; I don’t know it for a fact, other than knowing my mother’s home place and family just southeast of here on the North Carolina coast. But something resonates, and I know I belong. I still carry my bucket, and it still contains a measure of crap within. But it doesn’t spill out so much. Grace covers; there is a wideness in God’s mercy, in what is left behind and in what we still lug around. No matter where we are.

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4 Comments

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  1. This is wonderful, Beth. I love the imagery of the crap bucket. (Well, not literally – you know what I mean! haha!) How cool is it that you belong where you are? I think you have an impressive ability to adapt.

    I live just north of Lubbock – remember Plainview? Now I live in a suburb of Plainview. haha! I can well imagine why you went back to the north east after college. πŸ˜€

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  2. Beautiful. Lovely to know a little more about you. πŸ™‚ And I'd like a painted t-shirt please. Oh, yes, I would.

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  3. I love that name, Chagrin Falls! And I loved your ending!

    There was a time when I painted t-shirts too! Did you ever make a dress out of one, with a calico skirt sewn to the bottom??

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  4. I love your post Beth. I can relate to the uprooting as a child. And the bucket. It's so perfect. I used to big black trash bag, but think I'll borrow your bucket. Sounds nicer. I love Ohio…. I love the eastern european influences… I grew up with that… and miss that still. There is a lot I miss. I will say though too, that my heart is tied to where you now live. I love VA. and especially your area. Williamsburg. I love F'burg too, but think Culpeper is at the top. If I thought I could the cold I'd live move in a flash.
    I never painted t shirts… I feel like I missed out. πŸ™‚

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