One of the best second chances I’ve had in my life has been returning to the place where I started from sixty-six years ago. My new book I’ll Call It Like I See It includes my first impressions of this experience of buying a house nearly two years ago in a town that’s eighteen miles from where I grew up in the piney woods of rural southeast Texas. Reconnecting to family members and old friends who remain in the area and driving the back country roads of my childhood have brought unexpected comfort and sheer delight during an otherwise difficult time . I hope you’ll buy the book and read it online or in paperback and that you’ll find the collection of personal essays entertaining and possibly even challenging as you take a fresh look at topics ranging from faith to football and everything in between.
Today I stand (or sit) at the end of my nearly two years in Texas, and I realize I must be a wanderer. Surely to Betsy, as my grandmother used to say when she was certain about anything. No doubt about it. They call me the wanderer, yes I’m a wanderer, I go round and round and round and round and round. Thank you Dion and the Belmonts for the bull’s eye lyrics. I left Texas the first time in 1968 and moved to Seattle, Washington, and then I came back to Fort Worth in 1969 for two years before returning to the Pacific Northwest for another eighteen months and then moving across the country to Columbia, South Carolina in 1973 where I settled down for thirty-seven years. Too old to wander, I had thought, but not so much.
In 2010 I wandered right on back to where the lust for wandering was born and began a nomadic life roaming between two houses I called home. An unexpected turn to be sure, but an understanding partner gave me permission and encouragement to temporarily wander away from her and our home in South Carolina to spend time with the women whose love had influenced me in my earliest years and throughout my life. Not all who wander are lost, and sometimes your ramblings are rewarded.
My years in Texas have been good ones and I was present and accounted for during my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and my favorite aunt’s life-threatening illness last summer. My ninety-two-year-old aunt survived and our visits continue with laughter and fun together as we gossip about family and I eat a piece of a freshly baked coconut pie which she inisists is no trouble to make. My mother didn’t survive, but I treasure the memories of her smiles when I walked in to see her and the assurance she had at the end of her life that her daughter truly loved her and wanted to be with her.
I love the Texas house on Worsham Street in the little town of Montgomery and the people in the neighborhood are a dream team for me. My dog Red has the most piercing annoying bark ever created and he regularly tries my patience as he patrols the fence in the front yard, but my neighbors pretend not to notice. Everyone on the street has more animals than I do, even if you count the ones I have in South Carolina, and that makes for my idea of heaven.
The leaves are falling from the oak trees in my Texas yard and the last blooms of my crape myrtles are drying on the branches so I know autumn is in the air, and I also know I’ll soon be driving the thousand miles north and east across the southern states to reclaim my spot in a king-sized bed I’ve missed. If you’re looking for a stranger, there’s one coming home to you in South Carolina, but she’ll wander back to Texas for sure. She always does.