On Home

Home is a loaded word.

In my mind, when I see it or think it, I picture Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want”. The image of family is strong in the vision, and I wonder sometimes if this is what I have or what I want to have. Is it realistic or idealistic?

I am grateful to the Knoxes for flying me down to Mississippi this past weekend to play piano at their daughter, Kylie’s, wedding. If it weren’t for them, I likely wouldn’t have been back to Amory for a while. The ceremony was the primary reason for my visit, but whenever I have an opportunity to get down to see my family, I take it. I’ll admit that hasn’t always been the case.

When I was in college, I felt a gap growing between Mississippi and I. Standing on one side, the ideas, beliefs, culture, and assumptions began to feel foreign and uncomfortable. The gulf grew between myself and Mississippi the more life settled around me, and I began to distribute the blame for these feelings of melancholy.

Often I worried I would never again experience belonging to that place, and while I attempted to make Nashville my home, even there I felt somewhat out of place and set down awkwardly without resolve. I lost progress when my marriage ended, and suddenly Nashville began to take its place on the other side of the gap alongside Amory. I felt, due to my naivety, that I was somewhat other than those with which I grew up because I always wanted to be far from “home”. Now, I’m sure there isn’t much different about me at all.

All of us want to be unique and significant; when we accept that we are not special, extraordinary, or other, this acceptance makes it much easier to relate to those around us.

Collectively, we are great. Individually, we make up the whole.

Home.

When Marisa and I pulled up in the driveway, the humidity greeted us without hostility. “Take off your shoes and put on some sandals,” it said, and we listened. The hour was late, but I still wanted to visit. Mom and Dad were still awake when we arrived, and I was glad. I wanted them to meet this wonderful person with whom I’ve decided to share much of my time, and I wanted Marisa to experience a bit of what life was like growing up in a small town.

We hugged and talked, if only for a moment before we all decided to go to bed. Laying in the top bunk of my old bunk bed (Marisa and Alex, my brother’s girlfriend, slept in our separate rooms), I couldn’t help but think about the difference between now and the many times I’d traveled here before. Maybe it was the availability of central air conditioning I’ve missed in the city. Maybe it was the oddity of being an adult in a child’s bed. I didn’t know, but it was late; I fell asleep before finding the answer.

I awoke to the sound of my alarm bleating, warning me that time keeps moving even if I remain still. Hopping down from the loft, I snatched the crying device and shuffled into the living room. My mom, dad, brother, Alex and Marisa sat each in their own chair, talking as if they’d known each other for years. I rubbed my eyes and smiled. Everything was right in that moment.

The remainder of our stay was more of the same. Friends arrived along with grandparents and sweethearts. All brought along details of their lives and questions regarding my own. I gave them answers and told stories, laughing and singing songs, dancing and dining and feeling completely un-awkward in my own skin. And for the first time in my life, I knew I belonged to this place. All the misgivings and traps I’d set for myself from my cynicism and narcissism lay rotting in the past. They’d fallen, much like the blueberries that litter the ground beneath the bushes behind my childhood home. It is still mine, the dry-county in my heart. I don’t think I ever loved it before, and I admit that I’ve taken it for granted.

It’s easy to romanticize a place, much like many, myself included, romanticize New York City. You can think about summer and forget that winter exists. Death can elude the mind of the living. The poor can fall from the sight of the rich.

The difficulty is in accepting a thing for what it is and knowing that this is truly what you’ve done. I believe that real love can do this. Real love; not the stuff of emotion or feeling but in the choosing.

You can’t choose where you grow up, but you can choose your home the same way you can choose a person with which to share your life, in spite of all their flaws and imperfections.

It’s your choice that makes the difference.

14 thoughts on “On Home

  1. Beautiful words, Michial. Sometimes it takes leaving something or some place behind to find out its true place in your heart. It was nice seeing you again. Praying for you and for us all as we figure out this thing called life. God has the perfect plan for you.

  2. Michial, I am so proud of the MAN that you have become!! Ever since I met you, I knew you were someone special. Not only are you a talented young man, but a loving and Christian man. I know you have been through some difficult times in the last few years ( I keep up with you through your parents and your stories). And yet you have been steadfast and strong throughout your troubles. I can relate to some of your troubles you’ve been through and I have trouble putting my feelings into words; but it’s like you can read my mind and put thoughts on paper. I’m so thankful that you have met a special friend in Marisa. God works in mysterious ways!!! I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to keep up with you and your endeavors. The students that I truly love, whether I taught them or not, keep me thankful for every minute I taught school. And you are truly one of those students. You have an amazing life ahead of you; you have a wonderful family; and you have your loving God. The only regret I have is not getting the chance to see you this past weekend!!!😃May God continue to bless you! And just remember that you do have some OLD friends out there who love you, read your works, and pray for you!!
    Love ya bunches!!
    Kelly Poss – that’s just plain Kelly to you!!

  3. I felt exactly the same way when I left home. It was like you were writing the way I felt back then. You captured the true feeling of being back home. As well. We do take it for granted and how I wish I could change the distance I wedged between myself and home in the past. We take for granted our parents, I did mine. I know now how much they missed me, because I miss my girls that much. Thank you for a lovely story. Love you sweetie. Miss you.

  4. Bless you sweet Michial…. Wish I had gotten to see you while you were home. Remember how smart I believe you are and look for the good always….it’s there! 😃 Love you! Your writing is GREAT!

    • It’s always a quick trip when I’m down, since I don’t have a lot of vacation days. I appreciate so much the kind words; it’s often hard to find the good in things, but there are bright sides. I certainly felt them while I was home. I will say that I prefer “Optimistic Michial” over “Pessimistic Michial”, and I’m always trying to find that middle “Realistic Michial”. Life goes on, either way, but it is true that our choice is a real thing. I hope you’re doing well. Lots of love

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