Thursday, December 25, 2008

The ghosts of Christmas past.

I'm in Kentucky, and let me very clear: I never like coming here. Given that my father is a regular blog subscriber, this is certainly no secret. But I feel the efforts are growing increasingly more difficult with each visit. The things that used to not seem like such a big deal now tax my patience and by the third day (ummm yeah that's today) I'm really really really ready to go home and often shed a few tears (which I did) into Dennis's shoulder. We are waiting around here another day for my sister and her family to come down from Iowa and to be honest, if they weren't coming, we wouldn't have come at all. It's a long trip (much longer it seems, with a 2 year old) and is very hard to make in the dead of winter. The weather can be unpredictable but as history would repeat itself, yet again it is cold and dismal here, with no snow to relieve the dissapointment.

I often call these trips "a reminder of my humble beginnings" and although things are much the same, little changes have crept their ways into this little town. It seems in a big city like Atlanta, where the recession (how much longer till we call it a depression) is strong and the economy crippled that our woes don't reach this far out, yet on the walk between my in-laws and my parents this morning (yes they live in the same neighborhood which isn't nearly as great as it seems, I can assure you) I saw two homes foreclosed. I saw them when we drove in but the walk gave me time to look at them, take them in, spend time thinking about the story behind the loss. On the street where my parents live, Amanda Ct., the canvas of all my childhood memories, there is a home just three units up from ours with the big yellow stickers on the front window. The VandeSteegs lived there when I was growing up. Sarah was 2 years older than me, lanky with stringy black hair. She liked wolves and horses and anything out doorsy and had a pretty red bike. Now the window shades are open to the cavernous empty rooms where the tenants left a few belongings. A lonely windchime still hangs from the front light and sings a dreary song in the cold winter breeze. The upstairs screens are busted and leaning against the walls on the inside of the house, and as you pass by, you suddenly get that sour feeling in the pit of your stomach, like when you pass a car wreck so bad, you know someone died. Someone did die here, I think as I recognize the brown paint on the walls. Someone's worth perished in a bank account. Someone's life-savings rose and fell like the tides of the wind that run across the tips of the trees that grow behind this home's back yard. Let me say, too that this is not an extravagant house. Nor is it a shack. It is a 4 bedroom, 2 floor, maybe 3000 square foot home with a full, unfinished basement. At least the basement was unfinished last time I was there which may have been 15 years ago. The house is probably worth around $125 in good condition and in a good market. Houses are cheaper in Kentucky anyway. But to go back to the emotion of it all, it just reminded me that life goes on with or without our presence. That children are born and that lives are lost and the world keeps moving and things keep changing and people are dieing. Maybe they are still breathing and their heart is still beating, but life is gone. Their life is gone. In looking at this house, I am filled with a sadness so overwhelming I can hardly breathe. In my consciousness, I blame the cold thin air, but in reality, I know it is fear. We are blessed, and God has met all our needs. And I know, no matter how bad it gets, he will continue to provide, but the roads he paves for us are often broken, and hard, and painful. And I'm scared for what's to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way when I return to my childhood home in Ohio...Blessed and terrified all at the same time.

I adore your blog, by the way!