I don’t know if this is good or not so good for you – my reader – but, I wrote this post while in South Central Virginia, sitting at a desk by a second floor window. Man, at one point, I thought I’d have to hold onto something, since the whole experience, as usual, made me a bit unsteady. Let me share my surroundings. As I sat, and turned my vision to the left, I gazed upon a parking lot that butt up against an area with shrubbery and trees. In summer this same vegetation hides the head stones and dried flower arrangements of the “white” cemetery of old. I guess I should have warned, this place, although it is the 21st Century, continues to harbor a sort of color line – boundaries undoubtedly left from another time – an era when the separations were as prominent as street markings. Where signs like – “White Only” or “Colored Section” – were clearly marked so as not to cause any confusion. A street runs alongside the graveyard that drops down a massive hill. The road and parking lot together framed my view of the cemetery nicely in to a triangle.
I haven’t figured out what makes my brain automatically go to this type topic whenever I go there. But, it shrouds me like a mist or fog rolling in from the sea, always affecting my thoughts and, in turn, my writing – I can never seem to escape it. However, someone please have some decency, and leave me a comment when you’ve become sick of visiting this place from my past, okay? Now, when you think about it, pick an area in this country; people are from everywhere, aren’t they? Look on a map, stick a pin in almost any spot, and civilization has migrated there, necessitating infrastructure. That leads me to how my family came to that part of Virginia. I think I have mentioned along the way, my great-great grandmother came to this country as a slave and got herself sold on a block in Shockoe Valley, which is an area in Richmond. Through the selling and moving, somehow she managed her way to Nelson County, in North Carolina, which sits right across the state line where they staked land in Virginia.
I remember when we first relocated here from New Jersey, and I would go to visit and/or assist my mother – one evening I had to drive in to town, and pick up a prescription for her. It didn’t affect me until the return trip back to her house. But, as I rolled slowly down Main Street, which happened to be fairly empty, haunting visions of the past desperately tried to invade the present. Happy, yet melancholy visions of riding in the truck with my grandfather or standing on the sidewalk watching the parade go by; a small town, yet influential show with a marching band, and majorettes from the high school.
The Labor Day event proved a huge undertaking, and preparations for the next year began as soon as the one affair ended. Crowds of people came from as far as twenty or more miles in either direction. Although it consisted of the high school marching band, all the hoopla happened on behalf of the college, and it all culminated with the big college football game. I recalled an aunt, my mother’s baby sister, high-stepping out front of that crowd. You see, she had the role of head majorette. In my mind’s eye, like it happened just the day before, there she went: strutting, marching, cape swinging with each movement – left hand on her left hip, while she twirled that baton with her right hand, throwing it and catching it in mid-air. I could envision that band leader type hat, with the tassel right in the middle, and matching tassels on those white boots with the red stitching.
On this particular evening emotions swelled in my chest as I tried to understand how I had been so many places in life – done so many different things, yet fate had delivered me back to my beginning. And unlike some of my relatives, when my parents took me from here as a child, I had no intentions of returning. But, I, had been somehow transported back to the place where I spent some of my childhood. And now, eight years later, I remain; stuck in this place I certainly knew would only catch sight of me whizzing along the outskirts on my way somewhere else.
Why is it when you’re young, living your life, you never think of a time so far in the future. None of us knows where fate will take us. And, like for myself, destiny has delivered me back to my roots, only now as a three-time caregiver. However, if I had only given thought to any of my relations returning here, then it may have entered my head I would some day have to return, myself. Some years ago, a friend told me a story. It involved dropping her son at the sitters. Mid-day, he went to his baby-sitter and said – he didn’t ask – “I’ll just be going home now.” Well, that’s me – I’ve cried uncle; the fat lady has sung, and I’m now saying, “Okay, I’m tired – I’m done. This time, when this family drama is all over, I’ll just be going home now.”
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