Updated: Sep 29
I still drop my jaw just a little when I remember my oldest telling me how much he missed my chili.
It's a beautifully chilly Thursday.
One for Panera with a view and a handful of Sweet tart Ropes.
Trust me on that last one. They are magical.
I left the house this morning with grand plans and then stopped in my tracks.
I had such a feeling of heading home.
And how special for me that it just happens to be a few minutes drive.
Two beeps passing the Haxton's house where we spent every July 4th, a quick left turn before another car appears atop the crest of Grafton and then the curves that I could steer in any vehicle with my eyes closed.
For real. I grew up in the last house on Memory Lane.
As a little girl whenever the Oldie's radio host would tell the audience that he was "Taking a trip down Memory Lane," I always figured we should at least keep an eye out for him.
I mean we WERE a dead end and all.
I pass the first drive where we would wait for the school bus in the rain, sleet and snow.
And then it's one curve after another.
The curves of Memory Lane once got the better of me and a huge travel mug full of orange juice.
Let's just say that I tried to lay the mailbox on the ground with the pieces matching appropriately but they still just looked like a heap of wood splinters in the rain.
What's so interesting to my older and wiser brain all these years later is not that I smashed my parent's car into a mailbox.
It's why on God's green earth I even had that much orange juice to begin with.
No one should be drinking that much orange juice.
I was late for work so I couldn't stop to explain just why I had demolished their mailbox but in the days that followed I tried.
I knocked, I waited, I even left a note that ended up washed away in the rain.
My neighbors were on vacation and eventually erected a COMPLETELY rubbery mail catcher just in case someone like me once again forgot about the first bend on our street.
There's the cul-de-sac where I let a neighbor boy actually kiss me on the lips which was gross and not revisited.
The kiss AND the neighbor's barn.
(I pause and listen to a little louder than you really should be unless you are intentionally wanting us all to hear, lady tell her friend that she may not stay in the Maldives as long as she really wants to. #firstworldpaneraproblems
The adorable woman in front of me just almost had a heart attack at the sound of her lunch buzzer and smiles while she grabs her meal from the window. Her equally adorable flannel jacket tells me she most likely ordered soup and a salad and her dangly earrings tell me that she will also be getting something with whipped cream later. #panerapeoplepredicting )
I loved the woods by our house and exploring every inch of them.
I loved participating in Girl Scouts at Pat Yea's house and I even loved wearing an empty syrup bottle filled with water around my neck tied of course with the thinnest string we had in the house, for hikes.
Yep, We're all in our 40's now and could regroup as the hunchbacks of troop 336.
Maybe this is why I hoard water bottles and love neck rubs.
I just made that connection.
I shot my Mom a text asking if I could stop by for her perfect cup of hot tea just before I left and though I haven't got a response I still pull in the drive.
One time I surprised them right at nap time and made my way to their bedroom with them still fast asleep and actually climbed into their ginormous bed with them.
Yes I did.
And it will forever be one of my absolute favorite adult memories.
Remind me to get them a better security system.
I just walk in with my usual "knock knock," rolling off my lips and never making any sense whatsoever.
They're used to it.
And then a wonderful thing happens.
A few steps and I'm back to growing up and free meals and not a care to be found.
My Mom hugs me and teases me never to ask to come over again.
"This is your HOME. You can come anytime."
I ask her to make the tea just as she likes it because that's exactly what I'm craving and we sit and watch as so many homes are completely washed away.
And I sit and thank the Lord that my home is warm and inviting and still standing.
I'm aware that my parents have climbed uphill most of their married life.
That the tools they themselves were handed weren't sufficient to fix all of the problems ahead of them.
But the tea is always hot, the empty dog food bag still holds the garbage and there will at least be one Donut Land donut to share.
They tell me my hair isn't too short, but my visit is, want to know what all of the kids are up to and what it is I write at Panera.
This is what I write Mom and Dad.
I write about you.
And I sit here so thankful I could burst and think about what my kids will write at Panera someday.
I wonder if they will recognize the smell of the downstairs "catch all" room where my Mom pulls out a Fall wreath for me to hang because she doesn't like the idea of me not having one, like I do at my house.
I wonder if they will want their Earl Gray with cream and raw sugar just like I like it.
I wonder if they will knock already in the house and even if one day they will nap with me in my 70's.
I sure hope so.
I hope that the tea is always hot, that Donut Land always sits on the kitchen counter and that the couch is the kind that just sucks everyone into a heap of pure happy.
So I will take my son's chili complement, knowing that it's just about the simplest chili from one of the simplest cooks and know that he likes it because it's from his home.
A home that will one day draw his car and his heart and even his stomach for a little bit of ordinary extra he will be looking for on a chilly Thursday afternoon.
I'll be ready with the same hug that greeted me today.
I was trained by one of the best in the business.