I go there. I have to. My soul has to be there, even now, so many years later. At times when I need to center, I call on my old friend. Today, my loving friend is a place. It lives in my memory and is so very important to me. I close my eyes, breath deeply and go to Bemiss Road, in Valdosta, Georgia.
I turn onto the dirt road lined with little sand pebbles. The steamy atmosphere is full of life. I feel the vibrations in my ears with every heartbeat. Humidity and energy surround me. I drive on past centuries old oaks, a field of cotton or corn and cross the cattle gap into the garden….yes the Garden of Eden, vibrating with life.
This is my place, my people, where my life formed. Day-lilies named after grandchildren and loved ones line the interior fence. Exotics dance around the yard. My grandfather’s roses stretch toward the sun and leave a succulent scent. Honeysuckle, grows amidst lumbering oaks.
I find strength here on Bemiss road. A long screech, silence, then bang. The screen door alerts every one of my arrival. Crickets chirp in the corner of the kitchen. My grandfather fills his igloo water container, grabs the crickets and heads out to fish. My grandmother and I spend our day talking about God and life in the kitchen. I slink off to the blue room upstairs to take a nap.
We share a meal together and listen to my grandfather quote poetry. As a child, I found this incredibly funny and annoying and often started a giggle circle with my cousins. When I go there now, in my mind, I find it comforting and soul filling.
Night comes, I fall asleep slapping mosquitoes away from my ears and face. I hear sound of Johnny Cash serenading from the radio next to my grandfather’s ear. Yes, I’m in another room and yes he is hard of hearing.
I am loved here. I am safe and now I am at peace again.