Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Into focus

The three of us sat together on the flight back home. Three generations of blue-eyed women, the littlest being more than a bit thrilled to be returning home. I looked out the window to catch glimpses of green wet farmland under the heavy clouds. Recent rain had soaked the terrain. Pools of water everywhere--like someone had left the garden hose running too long on the lawn. When I'd left the leaves were dying on the branches. Now, treetops looked like mounds of ripe broccoli florets. The Missouri River was swollen. Carlights reflected off the slick highway. In six months in Baja California I'd not seen any rain. It averages maybe four inches a year in Loreto. In contrast Missouri is the fertile plain, a virtual tropical forest in comparison. When we touched down it began to rain and thunder.

Robert's sister, Sandra, picked us up. She called my name as we entered the terminal. I was expecting her to be waiting in her car outside on the curb. But there she was, every feature of her face as familiar to me as my own sisters'. Her eagerness to see us touched me. And so with my son, Beau. He was waiting at the house. He drove from college this afternoon to be here with my car he'd borrowed.

I walked in my house, the first time in five months and was struck right away by my "first impressions." Scuffed kitchen floor, the mottled pattern of the kitchen granite countertop, a dark spot in the living room from a burned-out light bulb, the deep hue of yellow on the kitchen walls, the purple hues of the floor tile, the stale scent of carpet and upholstery, a crooked picture, a red pillow on the sofa. You have to grab onto them quick before they flee, before your breath and words start altering the atmosphere and the personal items you carried in get scattered on the interior landscape, reclaiming your dominion, making it your house again. You only get a few seconds of being a stranger before everything comes into sharper focus.

By tomorrow my house will feel familiar again. As I spread my new stuff around, the old stuff will come to life again. One by one the features of my house and the things I filled it with will re-enter my consciousness and I'll remember the story.

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