About a week ago I sent out a request via social media for friends to send in a story about their hometown. Tempa is the first one to respond, and you'll see when you read why I am so grateful she did. I met Tempa at a meeting. She had moved to Quitman only a month or so before I returned. Married to a native, she was searching how to make this town her new home.
There are many reasons I am glad Tempa is here, at least a few being we are about the same age, consider writing to be a profession, are doing our best to deal with our children as adults and have found ourselves exploring new territory.
Enough of what I have to say. Here's Tempa.
My town. It rests hidden inside the forgotten outskirts of even smaller towns. It has a hard Sharpie drawn drag of a worn bumpy road. The crumbling pavement with its traffic running to and fro. It points to a way out. Yet, much stays within. The two lane path running through, has a stop light, maybe two. A stop sign here, one or two over there. Boarded up pasts and freshly polished new, it all lines our road that is always running through.
Life within the boarders is much the way liquid sugar clings to the lid on the mason jar's bottle of syrupy sin. The label worn vessel sits familiar and friendly in the center of the wooden kitchen table. Its thickness drizzles in a slow thread over the top of grandma's Sunday dinner cornbread. You try and conform to rule by using a fork, but temptation often over rides. The remaining pieces plucked between fingers in order to devour every crumbled bit. To rid the sweet adhesive evidence, you lick fingers clean. It is of little use, the stickiness of rural stuck to your skin.
Family here is as thick as a cold stick of Land O Lakes butter. However, when the contents of the waxed package is laid inside Mama's cast iron skillet and warmed through, the solid melts soft. It covers and conforms to the bottom of the rough black pot. What was once firm, globs, then bubbles and froths. It splatters up and out, staining garments of those standing near. The patches of greasy goodness a reminder of what was prepared that particular day in the cast of the iron of the family pot.
Communities locked tight like a screw turned repeatedly inside a nut. However, over time the grip loosens, the grasp unhinged. As life would have it, something taps along. Something tragic, inspiring or lost. Again the grooves roll, over and over and over again, melding back inside the snugness of the tight-fitted closure. Security has once again settled in.
Landscapes age like ourselves––hard and lined. Then, reward us with burst of broad smiles with the change of seasons, holidays and events young or old. Hedges trimmed, paint chipped outbuildings faded, fields full of livestock or pastures empty with wispy patches of hairy weeds. Things long since gone, but not yet forgotten. The winds blow through hard or breezy. Rains come in a flurry to cleanse, but familiar is unchanged. It sits still, much like a photo buried at the bottom of the family chest. It has faded and looks out of date, but we recognize the place, the time, the people. These things we know.
It is within the sameness that makes it all good. It moves forward, then back, then forward again. We settle into the rocking of the back and forth of our rocking chair. The chair gradually creeping across the rug unnoticed. Only after time, is it pushed back to its designated spot. A place where we can settle in, watch, hum, tap our toe, talk, cry, soothe the young ones and grow older in the encircling sameness. There in our place, this place, our spot, our chair of family and community, we creak to the comforts of teeny tiny lives. As time marches on, others come and go, our borders point inward to this place were we planted seeds and call home.
Thank you, Tempa. This was lovely and comforting and cozy and it feels like home.
If Tempa has inspired you and you would like to put a story here for the world to see then you can send your words or photos or both to sheagoff at gmail dot com.