Early this morning, a massive storm passed through middle Tennessee, including tornadoes that touched down in several places and left a path of destruction behind. The storm has claimed 22 lives at the time of publishing, but rescue workers are still out collecting information as they begin the long process of clean up. Our old neighborhood of East Nashville (pictured above) incurred a lot of damage–to friend’s homes, businesses, and cherished local spots.
Hi folks, Sara here. Survivor of 36 summers, including (but not limited to) Tennessee’s Allergy Basin, New Orleans’ Hazy Streets, Southwest China’s rural steam-heat, Thailand’s sizzling streets, and Arizona’s blast-of-oven “dry heat.”
What is it about coming home, about making a life in the place you’ve grown up, that turns you inside out, so brazenly and cool? Without batting an eye, the town that reared you also reveals you, the real you, the old and new you. She holds up the kind of mirror that shines a reflection so accurate that all you can say is, yep, that’s true.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a “Stuff I Like” chat and I’m always interested in what other people are enjoying, so I thought I’d share a few of my recent favs with you.
In our family, Sunday afternoon means a shared meal around a large, worn table. Everyone is included; the children squeeze in between adults and the volume increases dramatically. The food isn’t fancy or fussy but warm and nourishing and delicious. There is always dessert (usually one of those doctored-up cakes with fruit and maybe whipped cream.) My father thanks the Lord for His blessings and we dig in.
Because it is Sunday, we’ve already gathered in worship and prayer and now we congregate in fellowship. Eventually the meal winds down and little boys get bored of the chit chat. They rush toward the back door like a rag of wild colts and someone yells, “Put on your shoes! Jackets!” and off they go, into the freedom of the back yard.
We are sisters and brothers but we are also adults now, with mortgages and families of our own. In the same kitchen where we sat together as kids, eating cereal everyday before school, we’re now taking turns filling missed-matched mugs with steaming coffee. I snatch one last bite of dessert on my way back to the table. My mother bounces a baby on her lap, so does my youngest sister. We settle in our seats; this is the second act.
Someone remembers a time from our childhood- a story centered around an injury (“Was that Laura or Rachel that had the seizure on the back porch?”) or a relationship lost (“Was he Canadian? What was that accent?”) and always with an effort to top the last story (“Well, I had to take my drivers test in a 15 passenger van! Including parallel parking!”) We do our best to solve the problem of the week. Talk it up one side and down the other. Not much changes but we feel better.
The best stories come from my grandmother, who remembers all and knows all. Without any haste, she takes her time to unravel the yarn. People are both first and last name, with fathers and mothers and siblings. Places are specific- homes are on avenues or in hollers, jobs are not only in offices but in towns, in states, and in the span of certain years. The actors in the story are made vibrant by a hairstyle or the color of a dress and they drawl with thick accents. The drama unfolds and it is better than a movie.
After a little while, once the food is settled, someone starts to sweep up. And another takes the liberty to slice pieces of cake on to paper plates and wrap them in Saran for the road. The brothers-in-law talk in a semi-circle outside while the boys get muddy. Sisters gather coats and diaper bags and disperse to find their people. We linger in the sunshine a little longer.
Finally, necks are hugged and baby cheeks are kissed. We say a “See ya later!” on the way out because we live in a small town and it’s the truth. God willing, we will be here again next Sunday.
Long summer days make room for the things that seem to get squeezed out of those quick winter hours, lost in between the layered armor of wool and down, simple pleasures that need the sun to coax them out and warm breezes to get ’em moving. Continue reading “Long Summer Days”