THE MYSTERY OF HOME


Every morning I rise at dawn to sit in the parlor. Here I watch the sunlight illuminate the, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” movie board in the hearth, and drink a cup of coffee in silence. I feel at home. These are the most precious moments of the day, the moment of peace before throwing the dice.

I can see out the window to the street, and this morning a handful of eggplant leaves on the tree next door have been autumnized to a transparent sheen of bronzed gold. The silence following summer has descended down over the rooftops of the people that live on East High Avenue. The sky is seared with streaks of white, and bubblegum pink clouds drift just above the rising of the sun. The moment is a peaceful stroke to a summer that has been indeterminate, chancy and without design. We came here with the intention to sell the house, and we leave without any such idea.

In the moments SC awakes, I hear his footsteps on the creaking wood floor. I close the journal and go in the kitchen to make buttermilk pancakes. When we are in Solana Beach, we eat bran muffins, usually in short order, between telephone calls, and conversations about things that it is too early to discuss. These mornings he lingers on the porch and reads the paper, because he has the time. If my body is willing, I will run down to the stream by Kelly Park, and look for the blue heron. Along the way, I pass by the quiet man with the three beagles, and a mother walking with her children to the bus stop. I will pass the funeral parlor and look the other way, and when I see the Federal Express Truck, he will wave because he knows I am the woman that receives mail addressed to Soaring Crow.

The front porches I pass are the opening pages to the home stories of people inside. If there are children, the remains of their toys will be scattered about. If they are elderly, they will leave their gardening shoes by the back door, and if they are a young couple, they will be in the midst of home repairs, a roof that needs fixing or a new coat of paint. I have observed just one campaign poster board in the neighborhood. It seems to have gone out of style to post your politics on your car or in front of your house. In the front yard of one home, a banner is pitched in the ground that reads, “Remember our Troops.” I have not asked, but it is probable they have a son serving in Iraq. The hanging flower planters have been replaced with mums and corn stalks. Some scatter straw on the lawn. I used to giggle at this September tradition, now I am almost giddy about arranging my seasonal display in the yard.

The run back through town takes me by the high school, a brawny brick building that looks like the setting for a chapter from “Catcher in the Rye.” A teacher passes by, dressed in a conservative suit and pumps, and smiles. She looks wholesome as apple pie, and I wonder if I ever looked like that. On chilly mornings, the fireplaces may be smoking, a scent as perfect as my favorite perfume. Our own fireplace is inoperable until we reline the chimney, which explains why the movie poster is in the fireplace.

By 8:00 a.m. the yellow school buses are chugging up the street and the children, gathered at our corner; bob up and down in innocent bursts of energy celebrating the beginning of a new day. I arrive home about this time, and stop to watch the quaintness of the moment. The habitat of these surroundings strips me bare of my Hollywood entertainment, Southern California roots. I am nourished by quaint tradition and scenery, and that is one answer to this mystery I call home.

I eat cider donuts when I want and instead of working out three or four times a week, I take long walks, past the Sunny Side farms to see the young foals and mothers in the corral. I dress in style-less shoes and pants, whenever I feel like it, without fashion consciousness. I do not watch the television and prefer to go to bed early and read Carson McCullers novels. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I can sit on the porch and look at the hands of a storm forming in the sky.

People come to my house without notice, and sometimes just walk in and yell my name. My favorite Broadway hangout knows who I am, what kind of wine I like and that we like to sit on the patio. Sometimes I meet strangers who have heard of the Follies House, and I feel a twinge of acknowledgment.

It does not matter what everyone else calls home, it is simply the feeling of peace, security, and acceptance. That is how you know you are home.

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