C is for cookie, that's good enough for me
Thinking tropical

it doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday

We walked out to the car Friday afternoon and, as V buckled herself in her car seat, I went around to the other side and put all the stuff I was bringing in the backseat. When I closed the door to go sit in the front passenger's seat, V started to cry - she thought I was going to sit back there with her. So I did.

I was hoping to knit in the car on the way to the botanical gardens, but I get dreadfully carsick, especially in the backseat. So eventually I resorted to one of the few things that work for me - I rolled the window down a bit and breathed in the fresh air. The other things that work involve copious amounts of chocolate and/or fried foods.

It was cold; my cheeks were immediately numb. Cold never bothers me, so I closed my eyes and watched the lights change colors from behind my eyelids as we passed by alternating trees and open spaces. It was then that I started to remember.

When I was 6, the neighbors said they would start taking me to church with them to leave my mom and dad only one child to deal with for a few hours. The Thompsons were an elderly couple who went to church on Saturday and were out to evangelize us. The Perrys were the neighbors on the other side of us who would occasionally take me on Sunday so we wouldn't be evangelized by that crazy Saturday church.

The Thompsons took a woman to church with them too, Miss Ruby Love, and we'd have to drive to her apartment and then to the church. I was miserable sitting in the backseat of that pea green Chevy Nova with no air conditioning and not allowed to roll down the window. I would remove the small metal ashtray from the handle of the door and stick my mouth down into the hole to breathe in the tiny bit of air I could get. I did this all the way to Ruby Love's place and then would spend the rest of the trip sitting up properly, trying to keep from turning the same color as the car so that Ruby wouldn't think I was a bad child.

Back in the present, we passed the church that the Perrys used to take me to on Sundays. Up high on a hill, the church has one of those Jesus Saves crosses out front. I remember Mrs. Perry discussing with the preacher that I had never been "saved." I was eager for their help once I found out that I couldn't go to heaven unless I was saved. I thought it was going to be some sort of elaborate ritual, and I was excited to be let in on the secret. It was disappointing when all it involved was the preacher putting his hand on my forehead and praying for my precious soul. When I told my mom that I'd been saved at church that day, she wouldn't let me go back.

Our route to the gardens also takes us past one the mills where my grandfather worked and his father as well. This was the mill where he started out sweeping the floors because that was the job an 11-year-old could get when his parents told him it was time to quit school and go to work to help out the family. The mill is abandoned, but the little mill houses are so very cute now, each painted in a different bright color. I'm fairly sure university students live in most of them now.

Finally, just as I think I'm going to have to request that R and I switch places, we turn onto what my brother and I always called Puney Road. That rank smell in the air is the cows and horses the university keeps for agricultural study. I remember Saturday afternoons at 10 years old, riding home the long way after church to avoid the gameday crowds with the car windows rolled down in the orange Ford Maverick, keeping my carsickness at bay while we three yelled, "Puney Road!" from one end to the other.

And then there's the botanical gardens, just where I remember it, midway down Puney Road. These days, whenever we want to get somewhere, I have to picture the end of the journey and follow the road backwards to our starting point. Often I'll remember a shortcut along the way and yell, "Turn here!" Or I'll narrate the whole way - here's the skating rink where Sarah broke her arm except I wasn't there that day, here's where Roses used to be where Leanne put Nair into a bottle of shampoo and a lady bought it! Very probably the same stories over and over again. But I can't help it because the rose garden isn't where it used to be.

When my grandmother was alive, she loved going to the gardens. We went all the time. This was back before they built the conservatory and the only things they had to look at were lots of trees, a trail that ran into a swamp area halfway through, and the rose garden. But I'm living here now, a stone's throw from this town I hate, where I can't bear to take pictures, where I can hardly stand to write about it, but with a million pictures to take, a million stories to tell, and they moved the gd rose garden.

In the light of day, I had the most wonderful time there at the gardens. It was something different for us to do and there are nice trails now and pretty new landscaping. We spent two hours there, letting sweet V run all her energy out. We loved it, can't wait to go back. As we walked to the car to go home, an employee passed us in the parking lot. When he noticed our Tennessee licence plate he said, "A long way from home, aren't y'all?" I have a hard time lining all that up with how I feel tonight, writing this at 11:30pm. How sad and frustrating it is to be home when I can't go back to the people and places I love most. I can only ride through a city that feels so empty to me, the window down and the wind tangling my hair as I try to keep from feeling sick, because the people and the places I love are gone.


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It's hard to know the right thing to say. I wish I could make it all better with just one word. I admire your strength and ability to write (so beautifully) about something so painful. I hope knowing that you have friends all over makes some bit of difference. And I imagine that looking at V probably takes much of the ache away. At least I hope so.


And yet you are creating new memories with new people that you love everyday....

You write so beautifully, and it makes me so sad.


what an achingly beautiful post.
i can only hope that the creation of new memories with your daughter and husband will help somewhat to bring the town into the present for you.

spread your wings

this makes me sad - you write with such deep and longing emotion about the past. but somehow I think you will find new, and wonderful, memories wherever you are.

maya | springtree road

well, i feel a lot better after writing this, that's for sure. :)

sometimes you just have to say things.

rachel whetzel

and you said it all beautifully... let the healing happen. Love you!


Your words paint a picture of the beauty and sadness that I can relate to, even if my experience is not the same. We all drive down roads where the past confronts the present and it seems as if large pieces of someone or something are missing. Thanks you for so thoughtfully expressing yourself and your road.


Oh, maya, my heart goes out to you.


Sometimes the passing of time can be sad and sometimes a blessing. Never the less it stops for no one.
It is sad that the people and things you long for are gone but you still have the memories alive and well in your heart of a special time.

I liked the bit of your story where you said you were saved and your mom wouldn't let you go back to church. You were defiantly saved that day for the horrible car ride you had to endure.

Monkey's Momma

Maya, I keep telling you that you need to write a novel! What a beautiful post.


"You can't go home again" ~ Thomas Wolfe. Your story is an example of why that is so true. You are a gifted writer, Maya. Thank you for sharing your story.


Another lovely story-only this one has anger and sadness. Different from other memories you have written about. I can picture all your short stories (memoirs) hand written in a pretty little book with rippled edges and a ribbon page marker.


*hugs* I know what that's like. But for me, it's harder to reconcile the change in people, (or perhaps, in my perception), as I get older. That's what breaks my heart.

I echo others... you really do write beautifully. When you're famous, can you still drive by and wave at me? :)


As said by so many, beautiful sentiments and well written.

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