July 12, 2017

hometown glory

What is home to you?

Home is always embodied in golden hour sunlight. The magic kind of light that makes summer days seem even longer and winter days seem even warmer. It's in the backdrop to all my adolescent memories. Long shadows cast across the blacktop basketball courts at my elementary school, playing a game of kickball with my friends. Bike rides with my cousins through Shiloh Hills, racing the setting sun to be home before the streetlights came on. Running around on the boat launch with my camera, either back and forth to my tripod or making my friends and clients balance precariously on pretty blue canoes.

Home smells like my mom cooking my grandma and my great-gram's recipes, offering comfort after a long day and a couple hours driving. The last time I went home, I was greeted with the smell of my grandma's homemade chicken noodle soup, a glass of my momma's favorite wine, and the promise of good conversation. It smells like my dad: soap, cigarette smoke, and his patented garage smell. Smelling it now, even in my memory, still feels like a hug from him. It smells like Shea Butter and vanilla, the smell of my best friend's bedroom in high school where it was always a quick "Got everything? Okay let's go!" before we were off on our next adventure.

Home looks like picture windows and grandma's recliner in the best spot for being nosy about the neighborhood. Even though she is no longer with us, I can still see her sitting in the window with a smile on her face every time I walk up the driveway. It looks like an embarrassing litany of school pictures lined up in my dad's toolbox that sat in his garage. Seventeen years later, and I can still see the grimace in my second grade school picture staring back at me in my head.

Home is where unconditional love flows like water, because only the people you consider your family are willing to forgive you for your brokenness.

Home is Adrian's, my first job and the ultimate sweet tooth craving. Home is Echo Park having picnics with juice boxes and sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, watching the sun go down over Echo Lake with my best friend. Home is The Haylofter's and all the summers I spent all my money buying Mountain Dew from the gas station across the street during breaks from running lines and writing on the walls with lipstick. Home is having my first kiss at the movie theater in eighth grade. Home is driving on the backroads with my best friends, singing along to songs we will forever know the words to at the top of our lungs.

Right now, my hometown is under a state of emergency due to the White and Fox Rivers flooding from heavy rain and thunderstorms. Every post I have seen on Facebook today has been of the flood damage to my family and friends houses, properties, work places, and the small little town we all call home.

I am heartbroken for Burlington and the community I still feel such a strong connection to. This is the second tragedy to my small town in less than three months. Over Memorial Day weekend, two students from my high school and a recent graduate were killed in a tragic car accident. The people of Burlington came together to support those families in their time of need. The entire community grieved together for the lives of three young men lost way too soon. I have no doubt the same compassion and support for those who have been victimized by the flooding will come through once it finally. stops. raining. 

I'm praying tonight.

God, please allow this disaster to make my hometown come together as a community once again. Allow the compassion and joy to show up in this pocket of darkness. Allow the helpers to stay safe as they rescue those in need of assistance and evacuation. Allow the grace to shine through the rain clouds. May the sun come out soon. Amen. 

1 comment:

  1. anna-you always have a way of making things come into view. i love my little town of burlington too and i am heartbroken that another tragedy so soon on the heels of one has again happened. thank you for the wonderful memories brought back to life of your mom, your dad and gma. all amazing people i have known my lifetime and now am blessed to also have you. thank you for such an amazing tribute and view into small town life. love you anna. love, sandy