Tonight while Chris was getting August ready for bed, I strapped Brooksie into the Ergo and walked the five minutes to the front of the apartment complex, pushing a stroller full of recycling to its appropriate depository. (Oh, Texas, you make caring for the environment so easy.)
And as I walked through the heavy air, flaming sunset in the distance, I felt a settling in me, a root easing down.
This afternoon, I took the boys up to Chris’ office to eat lunch and meet some of his coworkers. A friend of his asked me how it felt to be back in Texas. I heard myself saying: “You know, Texas is my home but I only know how to be a kid here. I became a grown-up every where else.”
Then I agreed with myself in my head. That’s so true! I thought. I was 22 when I left. A third of my life ago, I lived in this culture. I don’t know how to be an adult here. I’m going to have to relearn.
Brooksie didn’t mind the heat while we walked, 8 pm, sun leaving behind its thick 100-degree haze in the dark. He rested against me content. I breathed deep, thinking about Mama Mac, my great grandmother who worked the West Texas farm in this weather, raising 7 kids through the Dust Bowl, without an air conditioner, without a washing machine. There’s a kind of security in knowing that the people around you talk the way you always have. There’s a sweetness in hearing boys and girls answer “Yes, ma’am” to the lady behind the checkout counter.
How many times have I considered the discipline of stability on this blog? What is it about our ancestors that roots us to a land, that makes us feel that we are made for a land the way animals root themselves to a climate, a way of life dependent on the weather, the vegetation?
All I knew, as I took that walk, my belly still full of the brisket supper my husband surprised me with tonight, was that my people would feel at home here. That’s never been the case before. Mama Mac would understand what to do with this heat. She’d shake her head at it, say it was the hottest summer she’d ever seen. She’d pray for rain for the crops. But then she’d send the kids out in the heat to get the work done. And she’d stand in it as well, working in the sun: scrubbing clothes, tending the garden, tending the animals. Maybe at night, she and Papa Mac stood on a porch and watched this kind of sunset, sighed relief over all those kids being asleep.
Brooks and I made it back in time for August’s good night story. He caught me at the front door: “Mama, will you come listen to Daddy’s story with me?”
So the four of us: Chris holding open Little Pea on his lap, Brooksie propped into the sitting up position between his dad and me. August’s head on my chest. My leg draped over their dad’s. We listened to the story: in this unfamiliar apartment, in this long-familiar place. The four of us listened.
It’s Thankful Tuesday. I’m thankful for home. What are you thankful for?