The South. They were both from the South.
Maybe that’s why I like her so much. Probably why we get along so well, feel like we’re related. That easy, southern, love- ya-no-matter-what personality.
I wash potatoes in my girlfriend’s sink, looking out her little window. Her lovelies, pretty crystals hanging from fishing line dangling dainty, hover over the sill.
Her sink makes me smile. It reminds me of my grandmother’s sink.
Grannycake’s house. Rhonda’s house.
If houses were shirts, theirs both fit perfectly. Like the favorite Saturday cozy you put on before you make breakfast. The one that, when you wear it, people see you, not the shirt, because the shirt is nothing fancy, just a shirt. But you’re in it and it makes them see just you. All you, without the razzle dazzle. You love that shirt. It’s cozy. It fits. It doesn’t pinch. It’s so…comfortable. It’s a perfect, be-your-normal-old-everyday-Saturday morning-self-because-this-is-who-I-am-when-no-one-is-looking kind of shirt.
Grannycakes’ house was like that. Rhonda’s house is like that. Two homes, same cloth. Being at Rhonda’s house fits me just the way being at Grannycakes’ house did.
Rhonda’s sink is much newer. Prettier, modern in its granite feel. Grannycakes’ sink was steel, a double sided, mid-70’s setup, that had just to the right of it, a dingey yellow drainboard resting on a towel. Her large meat mallet, a monster chunk of wood, always sat to the left, right under the towel rack. A red and white dipper tipped on its side, forever rested just behind the little sprayer. She wasn’t a scrupulous house keeper so there was always a bit of grime around the edges of her sink…a coat of dust on her window sill…friendly cobwebs hanging small under the little lamp that lit up that corner of her kitchen.
Stacked up next to today’s sparkling kitchens that are fit for a restaurant with their mammoth steel appliances, miles of white, and marble countertops that go on for acres, Grannycakes’ kitchen might have looked dark, small, dirty.
But even seeing the grime, the counter tops usually sticky with Jif, the crumbs that formed their line behind the small appliance congregation… it never felt dirty. It felt cozy and familiar, a background upon which the past was being painted.
It felt like love.
On a map, I don’t think West Virginia and South Carolina are exactly neighbors. And their accents don’t match. But somehow, as I scrub potatoes, I’m pretty sure Grannycakes and Rhonda are both from the same place.
A place where someone stopping over in the afternoon isn’t a nuisance but a good thing and usually involves putting one more plate at the table or sitting on the porch swing in the back yard sipping sweet tea and making slow about the garden and the neighbors up the road and how to make the perfect pot roast.
A place where people are important, not things or money or looking a certain way or sounding a certain way or being anything other than what God made you to be.
A place where it’s more important to feed people than it is to eat.
A place where a hug will always take priority over rushing off to the next best thing.
A place where a kind chat with the clerk at the grocery store will never be replaced by getting the first spot in line in order to hurry on through.
That’s the place they’re both from and as I spend the weekend in my precious friend’s home, keeping the lights on and her old dogs company while she delights in a big family adventure… leaves her familiar…hunts frogs…listens to the ocean with her babies and her husband, I am overwhelmed at how much of my grandmother’s home is here within these walls.
It’s here in the cupboards stuffed to the brim with goodies, treats for the people who pass through her kitchen, and through her life.
It’s here in the piles of blankets on each bed, layer upon layer of warmth for all who may rest their head under this roof.
It’s here in the knick knacks, hints of back-home to remind her of where her roots are.
It’s here in the pictures, every room holding faces of loved ones, treasured times, cherished souls.
It’s here in the drawers, the cabinets…utensils…dishes…spoons…knives…favorite tools…tools she sometimes uses…tools she might need some day…tools that were passed down…
It’s here in the peace that comes after the day settles. Quiet, house noises and water pipes the only ones talking, whispering to the background rhythm of dog snores. The walls ooze love. And function. Operation. And provision and care and growth and time… and memories.
And it feels like Grannycakes.
And it feels like Rhonda.
And it feels like all women who love their families and each other. Who care for their communities and for one another and who take care of each other, who take care of one another’s children.
Who care more about people than kitchens and their kitchen shows just how much they care about people.
It feels like a Saturday shirt.
It feels like a painting, the background the past…and the future too.
It feels like love.
And it feels like home.