What a month going on two it has been! Everyday life for every one has changed. It may be a small change for those still working like myself. None the less, my morning trips to the gym are now my morning trips to the garage to lift weights. And I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed my dance fest between sets. I’m thinking about auditioning for “So you think you can dance”. My three trips a week to the Neighborhood Market for a few things at a time are now weekly hauls because I don’t want to have to go back and dodge people who apparently think two feet is six feet. No more sending Shelby to the gas station almost every night for a fountain Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m bougie when it comes to this, can or bottle is not good enough. I know he’s happy about this change. I also know he’s happy about me not spending money on my hair and skin. He might not be for much longer because I’m not gonna lie, I’m getting uglier by the day. The most significant change of both of our lives happened in the last month as well. We moved into our forever home. To truly understand what a monumental moment this has been for me and how hard it was to let go of our current house, I must go back in time and give a little history of my living arrangements. This is merely to paint the picture and nothing else.
My earliest memories of where I have lived are a mixture of good and bad. Mostly bad since those memories tend to last a lifetime. I want to preface this by saying that I love my parents. I do not blame them for anything. They did the best they could with the hand they were dealt. Being 15 and 16 when I was born meant they were just kids themselves. So do not take these next few paragraphs as me being sad and bitter. I am not that person, I am not a product of my circumstances. Also, I may not get these chronologically correct, but they were all within a few years of each other. I remember a house we lived in on Johnson Street in Jonesboro. It was right across from a Junior Foods. I had to be younger than five years old because the girl who lived behind me was five and I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever. I spent a lot of time in the back yard with my five year old friend. I don’t remember her name and hopefully she wasn’t imaginary. But at this point she could’ve been. I also recall being told specifically not to ever cross the street. I of course did and got a major butt whippin’. There was also an incident with me getting a wire coat hanger hung up in my eye. As well as a memory of my father sticking a shot gun out the front window and threatening the uninvited attendees of a party on our front lawn. We didn’t live there for long and I’m not really sure why we were so far from home. Home being the Greene County area which was 30+ miles away. Years later as a teenager, I traveled annually via school bus to a basketball tournament at the Convocation Center on the campus of A-State. We would pass the Johnson Street Shack and the above memories would emerge reminding me exactly of where I came from.
I lived in a house on a gravel road near Lake Ashbaugh. I do not remember attending school while I lived here. I know it was hot so it must’ve been the summer time and I was out of school. Or it could’ve been before I was school age. I’m really unsure about the timeline here. What I do remember was my mother and I walking to the bait shop for a candy bar and soda. It was a long hot walk on a gravel road and in my mind we went every day. Money wise I know that was likely not possible. It is a good memory so I’m going to continue to believe it was daily. There were definitely tough times in this house. I don’t remember being hungry but I remember the fear of being hungry. I can picture the can of beef stew and the specific cabinet I hid it in so vividly that it’s as if it just happened last week. My father came home and was looking for the stew and it caused a huge fight. There were a lot of huge fights in the seven years they were married. When I was 26, as my father laid on his death bed, the next memory reared it’s ugly head. I remember pulling up to this house in a white Ford Granada. My mother and I had been gone. I’m thinking we had left to stay with Grandma Blondie and Grandma Jinks but it may have been Grandpa Bub. We came back to get more clothes because we were apparently not coming back. I also wanted to check on my rabbits. As soon as we pulled up, I bolted to the rabbit cages. My father managed to have a party while we were gone. That was evident from all the liquor bottles and full ash trays but he couldn’t manage to feed my rabbits. They were dead, starved to death. All he had to do was feed and water them. This memory overshadows any good memories I have of this house. Let’s move on fast from this one or I may cry just writing about it.
Beech Grove was the last early childhood memory I have. The house was actually between Beech Grove and Evening Star but it had a Beech Grove address. It was within walking distance to Grandpa Bubs and the last place we lived before my parents divorced. There are really bad memories here. Some I will not even speak about. The only good memory I have is of Grandma Evelyn coming for Christmas. She brought me lots of gifts. One gift was a strawberry shortcake perfume set. It was a happy day indeed. The last thing I remember about this house was me eating saltine crackers on the couch. I made a huge mess,and when my father came home, he took it out on my mother. As he went to punch her, he missed and put a big hole in the wall, and I believe he broke his hand. That hole would be there until that house was no longer standing. My mother all battered and bruised on the outside and me all battered and bruised on the inside left that day and never returned. While the three above houses are definitely part of my childhood. They are not often thought of when I think of growing up. I’m sure I could pay a therapist $50 an hour to tell me the above is exactly why I am who I am today. But I’d rather think of the below places as the places I grew up and became me.
The O’Kean years. For as long as I can remember, I’ve said I was from O’Kean. The back of a restaurant is where I grew up. And that totally sounds like the makings of a country song! There were four places I lived in O’Kean; the house my mom grew up in, the back of the restaurant mentioned above, the house trailer on 82 Pine drive, and the quilt shop I turned 21 in. The 1970 something house trailer was my home during my teenage years. I’m not sure what year we moved in. But it was just my mom and I, and of course several cats, for the longest time. There were a ton of fights between us, sometimes physical. I’ll be the first to admit they were most likely my fault. Those years were filled with chaos practically every day. However, when I think back on them it all seems perfectly normal. I lived in the back of the restaurant so many different times that I can’t for sure say how many years. It was the place you moved when you were down on your luck. Yet in all actuality, it was good luck you had getting to live there. It was the last place I lived before moving to Searcy in 2001. It was a place of love and comfort. A place where there was always plenty to eat and someone to talk to. I wouldn’t change a thing about those years living in Blondie’s Cafe. I can remember it like it was yesterday, the hurt in my heart as I pulled away from the cafe in a U-haul headed to Searcy. That nagging pain still exists today when I pass through O’Kean. It’s not really a pain but more of a yearning for a simpler time.
Oh Lucy street. 18 years of my life was spent there. I was so proud when I bought this house. Grandma Blondie and Grandpa Jinks loaned me the money for the down payment which I of course paid back. It was a blessing for sure. In the early years my girlfriends would come over and we’d drink and carry on like a bunch of crazy women. I was a smoker back then and I never smoked in the house, except when my hometown gals came over. We’d play card games and stay up all night and smoke to our little hearts content. Those were good times for sure. In 2010, when Shelby and I got married, we decided to move into my house rather than his. In hindsight, his house was probably the better choice because it was in a nicer neighborhood. However, if you know me then you know I tend to stick with the status quo. Meaning I don’t like unnecessary change and at that time, I just wasn’t ready to leave my home on Lucy Street. Over the next 10 years, we looked at lots of houses. We almost pulled the trigger several times. We made offers on some. We had offers accepted. However, I never could let go of Lucy. For the life of me, I still don’t understand why it took me so long to let go. When I think of Lucy Street, I think of the last place my Grandma visited me at. I think of Petee Cat who is buried in the back yard. I think of LuLu the Boston Terrier spending her entire 15 years there. I think of Shelby getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him. It was bittersweet leaving Lucy. I felt the same tightness in my chest and the same tears on my cheeks that I felt when I left O’Kean.
So here I am sitting in my new house, not just new to me but actually new, reminiscing on the past. It wasn’t the ideal time to move. The world is in the middle of a pandemic which means there have been very few visitors. The Stewards have did their part when it comes to social distancing. We both work with a large number of people and neither of us would be able to live with ourselves if we caused someone to get sick. With everything shut down, the joy of shopping for the new house has been replaced with a neck ache from looking at home decor online. I also feel extremely selfish talking about the new house while so many people are currently suffering financially. Hence, the reason I haven’t spoke much about it. I would compare it to your friend losing their job at the same time you got a promotion. If that makes sense. So I’ve just been keeping it low key. My days are spent walking my new neighborhood, hanging out with my little dogs, doing a little cooking and a lot of eating, and practicing Yoga in my back yard. All the while thanking God for giving me more than I deserve.