Mr. Moon wanted to buy a new bow to shoot deer with yesterday and so we drove up to Cairo, Georgia where he'd located one big enough for a man almost seven feet tall. We made an excursion of it, taking the Cutlass down country roads and it was lovely.
You've heard of the "magic hour"? That hour right before dusk when the light is perfect? Well, this time of year every second seems like the magic hour and as we drove through pine forests with wire grass and blooming golden rod and big oaks bearded with Spanish moss tossing in the wind, everything looked like something from a movie, or a coffee table book, perhaps entitled, Scenes From The South, A Glorious Day.
We stopped in Thomasville and ate lunch at that farmer's market restaurant, I forget what it's called, but at one point, sitting there with a plate of three kinds of beans, two kinds of greens, okra and tomatoes, a piece of baked chicken, and carrot salad before me I said something like "I could just sit here for the rest of my life."
Bring me some more tea, please, Honey, and pass that Crystal hot sauce, if you don't mind.
The bow-purchasing took, quite literally, a few hours but I had two New Yorker magazines to read so I didn't mind. I sat in the shade and read my magazines and occasionally went inside to use the restroom or check on the progress of the transaction which took so long because they have to do all sorts of stuff TO the bow before you can use it.
While I was waiting, I talked to a little boy who got inside a camo tent set up on the porch of the store next to where I was reading.
"Hey!" he said to me. "I'm a bat! I like the darkness!"
"Really?" I asked, looking up from my magazine. "Are you upside down in there?"
"I am!" he said. "But now I'm going to turn back into a human," and he shook the tent and made it tremble and when he popped out, he was indeed a real human little boy with brown hair and brown eyes and a very wide smile and his parents called to him and he got in the car with them and drove away and they all waved to me and I waved back.
Besides all the trees and fields we passed on our way there and back, we passed a lot of beautiful old houses, some large and handsome and some small and more cabin-like and one of the cabins was the prettiest color blue. I said a silent thanks to my grandfather who had moved from his native Pennsylvania to Tennessee long before I was born because I believe it may be against the law in the farming country of PA to paint your house blue and I'd hate to live in a place where there are no blue houses. Or pink ones, for that matter.
I'm one of those people who has always seen houses and thought, "There. That should be my house. I could go in there and find the kitchen and make biscuits and I could lie down in a bed in a room in that house and sleep peacefully and I would be happy there."
All my life I have done that. I remember doing it when I was a child, passing shotgun shacks with geraniums blooming from tomato cans on the front porch and and I remember doing it in high school, craving to live in a tiny stucco house in the middle of Winter Haven that had a tile roof.
The one thing that all these fantasy houses had in common was that they were old. Those old houses with character and personality developed from housing generations of people are the ones I have always craved to move into. Slip out of my own skin and into another.
But I don't do that anymore. I have the house now that I used to drive by and think, "Oh, I should live there." And I do. I live here. It's unbelievable to me still, after four years.
Sometimes when I'm outside, people will slow down as they drive by and they ask me questions about the house. I'm always happy to talk to them. "It's a beautiful home," they say wistfully as they drive away and I nod in agreement. It is a beautiful home. It's not especially fancy and it's not especially huge and it's not especially ancient, but it's graceful and it looks almost as if it grew here, like the oaks, the way it rambles on with its additions and porches.
It's not everyone's idea of a dream home. But it's mine. And the fact of that matter is, for the first time in my life, I feel as if I really am home. When we were in the process of buying this house, I was in a big Dixie Chicks phase and their song, A Home, constantly went through my head. I almost feel as if they had something to do with the magic of us finding the place, (and so did the Beatles, but that's another story), selling the house we were living in, and buying this one. Their song spoke so fiercely and eloquently of the regret of not living in a home that might have been. And I knew somehow, that if I didn't live in this house, I would live with that regret for the rest of my life.
Tonight I went out front and did something I've never done before. I stuck a political candidate's sign in front of my house. In front of my home. It says, "Change." It's a sign for Barack Obama, the man who I am fairly certain will be the first president of our country whose skin is not lily white. His sign sits in front of my white house, built for white people by the labor of black men, most likely, in a time when those same black men probably couldn't even dream of a time when they could cast a vote for president, much less run for president.
Times change. History moves on. And here in this house, my home, I feel part of it.
I love the south. I love my home. I love my community which is made of white people and black and where the golden rod blooms and people live their lives and live in all sorts of houses.
This is our home.
Mr. Moon is out in the woods with his new bow and it is the magic hour as the last of the day's light pours itself onto my trees, my flowers, my house.
And I am about to go make soup in the kitchen of my house and there is no house I'd rather make soup in and there is no place I'd rather be but here, in my community, where I belong.
My home. My beautiful home.
Where I have no regrets; none at all.