Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Take me home...

A few weeks ago I found myself on a road I've been on many times before. A two-lane country road not all that distinguishable from any of ten thousand others. It wasn't the most direct way to get to where I was going that day, but it was the way I needed to take. As I drove, I remembered. And though I never lived on that road, it felt like years of my life had been spent there.

Almost immediately, I recalled an icy night some years ago that resulted in a scarcely visible dent beneath the passenger side door of my Jeep. Suffice it to say the fourth mailbox on the right side of the road used to be wooden. You never forget your first.

A little further down I passed the old ball field, still standing but barely. The roofs gone off both of the concrete dugouts. The outfield fence rusted and torn down in places. The grass grown high. I remember when it came to life almost every summer night with bright lights, kids playing, parents cheering, coaches yelling.

If you take a left across from the ball field, it'll take you past the high school and the football field where one cold January morning I ran headfirst into the goalpost while not wearing a helmet. (Not intentionally.) Being knocked unconscious isn't loads of fun when it happens, but it makes for a decent story later.

But I didn't drive out by the school. I stayed on my current path, and I knew what was next. It's the fifth road on the left after you pass the Baptist church. The memories started to come. I pressed on the gas a little harder, maybe hoping I could outrun them. I loved a girl who lived down that road, and probably always will.

Almost to the top of the hill is the cut off to Roller Coaster Road. I'm sure I smiled as I passed it, thinking about all the afternoons spent running wide open up and down those hills. Top down. Stomach flipping. And time to burn.

The thought of turning around and taking one more ride on Roller Coaster Road briefly crossed my mind but I continued on, down the hill and finally to the stop sign. There on the corner is a little country store. Or used to be. It's been closed for years now, but the building is still there, looking dilapidated at best.

Some nights we would stop there and get a cold drink out of the machine after parking in the cotton fields, if we had enough change and enough time before daylight. I don't know what good it would have done, but part of me wished the store was still open. And I probably would have stopped off for a coke if it had been.

If you go straight at the stop sign, the paved road ends and dirt roads lead through miles of cotton fields. There are a couple of sharp curves and if you don't know the road well, perhaps on a foggy night, your friend's car might end up in a cotton field, on its side. And you might have to go back the next day to help him push it over so that another friend can tow it home.

I turned left at the stop sign. It was Thanksgiving day, and I had decided to visit the cemetery. Mamaw and Uncle J had been such a huge part of Thanksgiving for so many years, it just felt right to pay them a visit.

As I left that two-lane country road behind for another, I was astounded by how many memories were associated with that single stretch of highway. I felt a sense of home. I felt grounded.

There's something comforting in a place like that. Knowing that the memories are always there, just waiting until the next time I take a slight detour from life and go for a drive down that road. A road I know so well it feels like I could drive it with my eyes closed.

And sometimes I think I did.

"Ain't that just like a dream, runnin' wild and runnin' free. We were rebels chasin' time against the wind. Sometimes I long for just one night of the way I felt back then. But ain't that just like a dream, it always ends..."


  1. I recently had similar experiences visiting my small home town. It is amazing how the memories, smells and feelings come rushing back. Lovely story.

  2. It's amazing how this entry just took me home.

    Beautifully written bone.

  3. well that wasn't an show. ;)

    One of the hazzards of not living in the same town for any good chunk of your life is to not have memory roads like that. Even when I go back to where I grew up, there aren't any real memories like that. sigh

  4. This greyhound is delta bound mama
    Baby boy done finally found
    Said this greyhound is delta bound mama
    Baby boy done finally found his way home
    Said take me home
    -Marc Broussard

  5. Balou - Thanks. They do come flooding back. I'm glad it was relatable.

    Tiffany - It's good to go home once in awhile :) Thank you.

    Renee - There are probably advantages to that, as well. Some days I feel too tied to this place and wish that I was a thousand miles away.

    Cami - I'm not familiar with that one, so thanks for including the artist :) I was thinking of "Take me home, country roads."

  6. This post just breaks my heart, and yet I can't help but read it, over and over again.

    It's beautiful, Bone. As are your memories.

    P.S. Best. Song. Ever. I can now be found, the rest of the day, with that on repeat on iTunes.

  7. Beautifully written... as always. I once hit a mailbox too, but I was riding a bike, so I did more damage to my pride than the mailbox. I remember that day every time I go visit my parents and take a walk through the neighborhood. Think of all the memories that would slip away forever if we never revisited these places.

    I grieve for the people in the world who can never go back... whose homes and communities have been destroyed by war and disaster. Knowing that the only reason I can't visit my old elementary school is that it was replaced by a bigger-and-better one helps me to keep things in perspective.

  8. you had me when you informed us that you always remember your first mail box... I'm sure I will. nice memories. Have you read William Zinsser, "Writing about your Life: A journey into the past"?

  9. This is one of your most beautiful posts but you know that. Right?

    Roller Coast Road is a wonderful name. We had Dead Man's Curve cause it was but there wasn't the same beauty to the name, though the road was spectacular. R will be so jealous--hates it when people come up with more clever names than he does

  10. Awesome post of memories. I posted a photo today of a road that reminds me of your road. I've been down that road (well, maybe not the actual road) and had memories like that.

    I remember scenes from childhood, teenagerhood, young adulthood.. churches, parking lots, gas stations, trees, fences, signposts, graveyards.

    Precious are the memories traveling down an old road. It's like an old friend, an old relative that always smiles and keeps getting older. One that you'll always remember.

    Memories of times when everyone was on your side.. when everyone you knew and loved was still alive.

    I could go on and on and on. down the road. memories.

  11. You never forget your first.


  12. I have been down a similar road many times in the hills of northeast Ms near Iuka when I go home.Your're story could be mind.

  13. Warmth, the post had warmth and heart.

  14. TC - and yet I can't help but read it, over and over again.

    That's one of the best compliments I can think of. Thanks.

    R8chel - I never thought about it from that point of view :-/

    Having a tangible building or structure there, even if it has long since been abandoned, definitely helps you to remember.

    Sage - No, I haven't. He's the "On Writing Well" guy, right?

    Pia - Thanks. Yeah, Roller Coaster Road just has that ring to it. I wish I could have described it better.

    Shelby - Thank you. I figured lots of people would have their own "road" that brought back a flood of memories.

    The memories didn't stop, just my post did.

    Thank you for including me in your thousand posts. That's always an honor.

    Gay - Hey, if I can make someone snort, I consider that a good day :)

    Yolanda - Thanks for the comment. I've passed thru Iuka several times on 72.

    Marcia - Smile. Your comment made me smile.

  15. I have those kinds of memories too. Places, faces, times long past. We think things take so long to come to pass, but then they're gone in the blink of an eye!

  16. Like Tiffany, this post did take me back too. Funny though, it made me feel sad not happy. Missing people, places and things. Not that things arent good now, but that the past was so finite... life is so short...

    Ugg... I need a pick me up! lmao!!

  17. There were tears so close to the surface as I was reading this. You described perfectly my feelings whenever I get anywhere near home. Funny how the place you grew-up is always home no matter how long you've been gone.
    Beautifully written, I didn't want it to end...

  18. Lass - It just seems to get faster and faster as you go, too.

    Helene - It does seem like the good ole days are always somewhere in the past, doesn't it?

    Maybe it's because things are always changing. But the past never changes. It's there, all safe and tidy and we can revisit it anytime.

    Paula - I didn't want it to end, either.

    Thank you for the very nice comment.

  19. Bone I loved this post it reminded me of my trips home to New England.

  20. Sometimes being around the memories isn't good...especially when they keep changing everything.
    I haven't been back to my old hometown but we've gone to see where DH grew up. It is now a totally touristy place. DH was like "and over there was Mrs. X's yard where we would pick cherries...but it's gone now."