On Being Pulled ~ Part I

Driving down the black Florida highway, I feel the pull.  Husband asleep beside me and children quietly watching a movie in the back, I have space to tune in to my insides. To this pull. It’s as if there is a string (or maybe a rope) from our minivan to our final destination.  Pulling us. Hand over hand over hand, someone on the other end, pulling, pulling, pulling.  Or a magnet.  A large magnet drawing me, in our minivan, closer and closer.  And the closer we get, the stronger the pull.

As I’m being pulled, I take in the sights around me.  The gray moss, drooping from the old oak trees lining both sides of the road, adding a softness and a hominess that I realize I miss (we don’t have moss in Indiana).  The open land, dotted with cattle. Black cows. Brown cows.  A lone tree here and there. Palmetto bushes, short and squat and spiky.  Palm trees. All kinds of palm trees ~  short and tall, straight and bent ~ randomly strewn alongside the road and in the fields.  And the occasional orange grove.  Not polka-dotted with round oranges yet.  It’s not the right season.  But orange groves, nonetheless.

And the road signs and billboards.  They add to the pulling sensation.  Welcome home, they seem to be saying, as I notice names of places that are ingrained in the inner being of who I am. Places that represent home.  “Gainesville:  51 miles,”  “Come Visit Gatorland,”  “Real Florida Orange Juice, next exit,” “The Suwannee River,”  “Orlando,” “Ocala,” “Tampa/St. Petersburg.” Signs for the University of Florida (go Gators!) and Silver Springs.  Road names that are as familiar as the lines on the palm of my hand:  I-75, I-4, 27, and the Florida Turnpike.  And the funny and familiar name of Okefenoke. I’ve always loved to say that name:  Oh – key – fe – no – key.

I’m sure this feeling of being pulled probably has a lot to do with cruise control.  As I’m doing basically nothing to move us forward, we are moving, creating a pulling sensation.  But since I’ve never tuned in to this pulling phenomenon before, I can’t help but connect it, along with the nostalgic scenery and signs along the way, to a symbolic meaning.  A pull towards home.  I was heading home.

As we drew closer and closer to our final destination, I could literally feel the pull and the desire to be there more than ever.  If I weren’t afraid of a speeding ticket (or an accident), I would have kicked into high speed to get us home sooner.  I would have taken that final stretch in a full sprint.

And then I wondered…would I feel this way on the trip back home to Indiana?  As my heart and being longed for home and family in Florida, would I feel the same for my home and life in Indiana?  We’d lived there now for eleven years.  And I’ve been looking for signs that this was home, really home, ever since.  Maybe this would be the true test.  The “pulling sensation” test.

So, two and a half weeks later, I checked.  On that final stretch through Indianapolis, toward West Lafayette, an hour northwest, I tried to find that magical magnetic pull.  I didn’t feel it.  Of course, I wasn’t driving.  That may have a made a difference.  But in my heart, I wasn’t feeling the pull.  I wanted to feel the pull.  I truly did.  Maybe I was trying too hard.  Nonetheless, the magnetic test had failed.  There was no pull.

And then I wondered (again)…do my children feel that pull?  Someday, when they are adults and are returning home to Indiana for a visit, will they, like me, feel that magnetic pull towards home? Will the Indiana surroundings evoke a sense of nostalgia and homecoming in them?

I now look out the window of my car, trying to view the scenery through the eyes of my children.  What might they see, twenty years from now, that will represent home to them? Fields upon fields of corn.  Silos standing tall, like huge, round, tin-man giants.  Open fields dotted with an occasional farmhouse.  Tractors and barns, horses and cows.  Windmills ~ hundreds of them ~ spinning, spinning, spinning.  Signs for Purdue University (Boiler Up!).   Road names that will be as familiar to them as the Florida ones are to me:  I-65, 52, 32, 231, and 43.  Names of places that by then they will know well:  Zionsville, Lebanon, Kokomo, and Crawfordsville.

Maybe these will be the things, amongst others, that will tap into the inner being of who they are.  Maybe they will be the Welcome Home signs to them, luring them home.

I hope so.  Because that will mean that the memories they have of growing up here in Indiana, more importantly, in this family, are life-giving and good.  I know my own longings for home stem from how my parents poured into me and loved me.  The Floridian details are merely the tangible reminders of intangible good things given to me by my parents.  As much as I desire to return to them and re-experience them, I now desire even more to pass the same intangibles along to my children.  And it just so happens that their setting is Indiana.

And so my prayer is for my children to someday feel that pull towards home.  That Randy and I, along with all the good things represented here, will be the magnet drawing them back home.  Hand over hand over hand over hand.  Not in the sense that I haven’t “let them go,” but in the sense that they have been filled and poured into here.

And with that in mind…I am excited to return home to Indiana.  To look for those things that are lovely and good, that will someday stir the souls of my children and symbolically make this place home to them.  And to me.

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One Response to On Being Pulled ~ Part I

  1. Darcy says:

    Wow. I remember so well when your mother and I were first getting to know each other and becoming friends, she was still adjusting to the strangeness of Florida, still trying to feel in her heart that it was any kind of home at all. All her resonance was with a northern clime, and she struggled and fought so hard to find things, plants, places, symbols, that would make Florida a real dwelling place, a home. How she missed the north!–and that could have been the north of Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan–you name it!–and yet, what a fight she fought to make Florida home: for herself, her husband, and her children. And she succeeded–your web post is the proof. She never lost her love and immediate connection with the north, but she came to love Florida as well. Part of that was accomplished because she and Dave were raising you three Rocknesses there, and therefore she became imbedded in the community, in your various circles of friends, and in the community of faith that she and Dave were building through the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales. But she read everything she could get her hands on about Florida: fiction (beginning with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings) and non-fiction (anything having to do with Edward Bok and his era), so that she could be aware of the secret forms of magic that Florida might disclose to those who took the time to seek them out. She knew that the high rituals of hospitality and home-creation had nothing to do with geography, so she instilled in you & David & Jonathan all the love of ‘high tea’ and a particular way of celebrating Christmas and of incorporating wonderful people into your daily lives (Milford!) that made Florida the locus of all your fondest memories–but which really didn’t necessitate ‘Florida’ at all. They called for a mother who wanted her children, more than anything, to have a rich, enchanted, and many-storied childhood. That they (you) would associate that with Florida was a given, because all those rich memories are colored by the greens, yellows, oranges, reds, and blues of that semi-tropical landscape, and imbued with the heady scent of orange blossom and jasmine. They are enlivened with all the people (Mrs. Stokes!) of that strange southern crossroads–Florida–that is part south and part no man’s land. But the love you have of Florida is in many ways due to your mother’s supernal effort to make THAT place (where she was not, originally, either happy or fulfilled) home. And to read your own reflections about gravitating towards central Florida is incredible testimony to the degree that she succeeded.

    If I understand correctly, you are doing the same thing, Kimberly, in your own situation in Indiana. You are creating a MOPS circle of friends, and a tradition of high tea, and I don’t know how many other things, that your own children will identify as being uniquely part of growing up in Indiana. How wonderful is that?!!!? Your mother, my dearest friend, will read your post with an overwhelming sense of pleasure; something in her will be saying, “YES!” when she reads what you have written. I don’t think you could have recorded any emotion or event which would have moved her more in terms of inner accomplishment, and the knowledge that you are doing the very same things with your own children will give her enormous satisfaction. Heck, it gives ME enormous satisfaction. I have always stood in amazement at your mother’s ability to create a HOME, and she has conveyed that to all her children. You are continuing to carry this out, and in the very same way–not because you find Indiana the ideal ‘home’ or the place to which your heart gravitates, but IN SPITE of that, because you know that ‘home’ is far more than a geographical location.

    Strangely enough, I have been re-reading for the umpteenth time (and for a book club, where I need to lead the discussion) Homer’s Odyssey, and above all else, it is a poem about returning ‘home’. That is the true meaning of our word ‘nostalgia’–the longing to return home, and it is what all of us want to do. God planted that sense in our hearts, the desire that we are from another place, and that our true home is never exactly where we are. And so we seek Him. But on earth, blessed are the mother and father who know how to make a home for their children, wherever it might be, and who have been able to impart the sense that at some point, somewhere, they were rooted, grounded, belonged.

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