Whether I’m 100 miles away or 15 miles away, I am always sick and lonely for my childhood home. The grass is green there now. It turned that way overnight, or so it seems to me because the last time I was there it was still brown and dingy from the winter. Today, it’s green though.
Last week a strange car was parked in front of where I live now and a truck was blocking my driveway. I drove on past, because I didn’t know what to do since I didn’t know the people.
A few minutes later there was a fire truck and an ambulance there … right in front of my house. I still don’t know what happened though. I couldn’t help but think all day that if I’d been at home I’d know what happened and exactly who it happened to, because in the cove you just have an easy way of finding things out. News travels easily from neighbor to neighbor, because most of them have been there for multiple generations. Everybody knows everybody.
I don’t know why such an incident would make me want to go home so badly, but it did.
I think this is a curse for people who are fortunate enough to live tribe-like in the forgotten nooks and crannies of the rural south. You get so accustomed to the view from your particular plot of land and the characters in your life —because when you live in such a place, those two things very rarely change — that no place else will ever make you happy.
Last week, during a rare moment of sunshine and cloudless skies, I took a walk to my favorite place on my parents’ land. It’s the place where water flows out of the mountainside into the spring. The weeds getting there were much taller and thicker than I ever remember, and I only made it there with the company of a thousand beggar lice and briar cuts. I go there a million times a year in my mind, but I could tell that day that I hadn’t really been there in a very long time.
There was evidence of this, you see, because there are fallen tree trunks that go across the rocks and waterfall. And there stuck between the trunks was a turtle shell.
The shell, which was upside down, was white and empty, and I knew from this that some poor turtle had fallen there on its back and there he must have suffered a long lonely death.
I guess I’ve been sad for that little turtle ever since. I’m sorry I did not get back in time to save him.
It’s a silly thing, I guess, a dead turtle. But it’s a thing of home.
I wouldn’t give so much thought to a dead turtle I saw anywhere else.