Sometimes, simplicity is elusive. It inadvertently cloaks itself like the sunshine which glimmers amongst the leafs while hiking an arboretic path. Other times, simplicity is simple. It beams so bright that you wonder how you could ever let yourself forget it's there. We all know we need to simplify, yet we continue to construct labyrinths. Why live in a little trailer when we could have a mansion? We're all battling the ever cumbersome inclination to complicate.
I do it too, worry too much, over complicate everything. I also tend to write it off, leave it at saying But Don't we all? However there are a certain few amongst us who do not. In my life, my granny and poppa are some of these treasures. They, without trying, on a daily basis light my way, their lives becoming my instruments of hope – complimentary knowledge that I too, can discover, delight in this alternate path.
It is hard for me to imagine that they didn't always live in that single wide trailer which has been my first stop all my life - home from school, home from college, the first place I start my day after I wake up late on a summer day. In fact, my Poppa and Granny had worked at a sewing plant nearby all their life and finally made enough money to build their dream home when not even a month after they had moved in it had went up in flames. Today, I see their flamed filled eyes, my poppa who was born with the temperament of a skittish dog, and my granny keeping composure only for the sake of him and her youngest daughter, my aunt, a young girl at the age of seven at the time. How did they tell themselves in that moment everything was going to be okay?
My mind recalls a church sign which I have passed countless times, like a scrolling marquee permanently engraved in my brain: Where there is love there is life. How every time I would think of my granny and poppas, as well as my first love. The two are somehow connected.
On a life map, the hiccup of your first love is much like the sight of a haphazard tree in the middle of an open field, unforgettable, a milestone. With the start of sophomore year, I was patiently waiting for the first sign of a spark. Shortly, I learned that first loves are not sparks, they are fireworks, grand explosions that make you feel like you have never been more alive. All of the knowledge you gain, the perpetual lists of firsts together. Yet, fireworks are ethereal, they come and go, as do most first loves. We are reminded how animated our heart can be, only in retrospect to realize how nearly impossible it would be for amplified excitement like that to last forever. Still though, the love was not lost, buried in some special part of your soul, like first steps, or first brushstrokes on a a new brillo pad, uneraseable.
I know now that when I am in love, I am the little curly haired girl running across the tennis court length cow pasture which connected my childhood home to my granny and poppas house. Running Bare-foot. Unafraid. Comfortable.
The little house doesn't match the houses from better homes and garden which speckles my grandmother's nightstand inside; this small fact only makes me love it more – with it's threadbare beauty, simplicity and imperfections made majestic. Pay close attention and the crooked homemade mailbox before you arrive tells all. Drive up the rutted out, once upon a time gravel drive way that follows the highly rusted fence that sprawls around the entire house and property in its haphazard way. Nowadays, the house is a light green with dark green shutters, which was either an act of entertainment or to transform the typical white of a trailer into something a little more homely, or both. From afar the paint job looks professional, up close you notice it was done by shaky hands and inappropriate paint brushes with which they could only try their best to paint all the tight corners. Still, even when I know that to passerby and new guests it's probably best described as ruins, my heart tells my mind it is a small castle, refuge, fortress.
The inside of the house has much the same effect. The back door, which is the door of choice, pushes you immediately into the heart of the house, a small yellow kitchen where my grandmother is queen and she ordains love daily, by the biscuit and glass of sweet tea. The extent of her decorating the kitchen consists of every so often splurging on a new decorative plastic table cloth. A relatively empty school calender, marked only with birthdays and doctors appointments, always hangs on the faux wood paneling. The emptiness reminds me of two things. First, that ever since they were both laid off, their retirement has been comprised of days which are mostly the same. My immediate discernment is boredom, then I sit down and eat supper with them and realize that is far from what it is. Like the chicken stew hot from the oven, there is warmth at that table, radiating inner peace, revealing the simple joys of routine.
The second is that my life is far removed from these simple pleasures. My calender is completely booked, blank days like rare animals almost extinct. Reminders that I am not that little carefree girl anymore. The one that made rock museums in the hedges in the front yard. Or the one who got pushed to new heights in the tire swing by her father on the huge tree out front. Even the tree is no longer there, only a hidden stump remains. I have duties. My granny and poppas lives seem light years removed from my own.
This year I missed Easter sunday at my Granny and Poppas for the first time ever. I didn't get to savor the giblet gravy and dressing, watch my little cousins hunt easter eggs, share the laughs about how my Poppa's method of hiding eggs is not hiding them at all. I was working, of course, left only to create imagined memories. Waitressing tables so that other people could enjoy their easter with their friends and family. But what I learned that day is something I've known all along, my granny and poppa, my family, that little girl, that place are all things which keep me going.
The day after Easter I jumped in my car in the morning intending to only go grab some breakfast, but the only thing I was hungry for was some of my Granny's Easter left overs. Before I knew it, I was pulling up their drive way. I was home. My little cousins were there too, on account of it was their spring break. Together we hid eggs and pretended like it was easter. In the front yard, we did hand stands and cartwheels. While playing with them, tears fell gently down my face as I discovered that it isn't as hard to simplify as I let myself believe. And as for being that girl again, she is still alive and well inside of me, she always will be because where there is love there is life. Lucky for all of us, sometimes love is simple. I love my granny and poppa, that place, myself because sometimes I love because I know no other way.