Mississippi

I remember my second home in disjointed details – a nubby orange couch, the backyard swing set, a white driveway to the road, and fire ant mounds. There was a drainage ditch to jump in the front yard. Across the road was the forbidden field of tall grass (snakes and other poisonous critters). The fog truck would chug through the neighborhood every so often, releasing insecticide mist that left a metallic taste if inhaled. I don’t remember the storm, but I have a vivid image of trash cans floating on floodwaters.

I remember a neighbor or two, just in flashes – running around in the front yard, playing on the swings, and kicking a red ball. I can see my mother drinking coffee as we ate breakfast, my sister playing with me in the driveway, and my father airplane swinging me until I was dizzy. I remember saying prayers at night.

This was home to my toddler and small child self. We moved before I turned four, but I visited it one more time a couple of years later. A hurricane had hit the Gulf in ’68 or ’69, leaving its claw marks in the back yard. It was the last time I set foot there.

I can’t tell you name of my street or how many other houses were on it. I don’t remember the kitchen or where the bedrooms were located. Such things weren’t important enough to make an impression. It is a child’s world – the smell of grass, the heat of the sun, and a few daily activities are all that remain. It was a place I felt safe and loved, and a time shared with parents and my older sister.

As a place for first steps, words, and memories, it was more than enough.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…I Cor. 13:11 NRSV

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