Happy Place


It was routine surgery really. But it was my first. I wasn't scared so much as nervous and uncomfortable. The doctor came to talk to me just before I got wheeled into the OR. "How are you feeling?" he asked. I told him where I hurt and he said, "we're going to fix that". Those words were oddly comforting. We are going to fix that.  So nice to hear someone so confident that "it" can be fixed and they can do the fixing. 

The anesthesiologist put something in my IV and encouraged me to begin thinking of my happy place. "Imagine yourself there," he said. "Is it the beach? Imagine the color of the water." 

Okay I thought, I'll make my happy place the beach. I'll try to hear the waves. Soon it was time to put on the mask and count backwards. I could feel myself drift into unconsciousness, though beach thoughts just did not "take".

In recovery the nurses were calling me...as if from a tunnel. Calling me and asking me to open my eyes. When my eyes fluttered open I realized where I was. And I realized where I wasn't. I wasn't in my happy place. I was just there seconds before I re-entered consciousness. I had really been there. I was happy in my happy place. Why did I have to leave the happy place when I wasn't ready? It was hard to understand in my still groggy state. I ached to go back to sleep so I could visit just a little while longer.

I silently let tears fall to the bed sheet. Not sobbing, but crying just a little. I didn't talk about it. Didn't explain which part of everything made me sad.

It wasn't until that day that I understood where my happy place was.

It's Grandma and Grandpa's house. The house my Dad and his sister grew up in. The house that I spent HOT. Summer. Days.

There I am (to the left). I'm "cooking" in the cast iron pots on the hearth. I spent many, many days at that fireplace. These were my "toys". 

In the winter, there was always a fire. The hot popping kind with blue and yellow flames. 

The house I grew up in was just a quarter mile away as the crow flies. And that's exactly the path we took to hang out at Grandma's. We always called it "Grandma's" it was implied we meant Grandma and Grandpa.

Sundays, for as long as I can remember, meant fried chicken and fired potatoes and garden vegetables at Grandma's house for lunch. There was plenty of ice tea and something sweet for later.

Once the dishes were cleared we all headed out to the front porch. Lots of living was done on the front porch. 

The porch was where I wanted to be even if I was the only one there. Rocking in the chair and feeling the breezes was pure serenity.

This porch is where Dad was rocked when he was little and fighting sleep. 

This porch is where my sisters and I played while the parents talked and laughed as night fell. Mosquito candles flickering to give the illusion that we were safe from the itchy bites.  

This porch is where I read many novels while I drank glass after glass of ice tea. 

This porch is where Jordan and I shared our wedding day snapshots and several years later it's where we brought our daughter to play.

Grandma loved this porch. I often joined her on the porch in early mornings to enjoy the the cool breezes while we drank coffee. Those were nice quiet mornings. Neither of us felt compelled to chat. Sitting beside each other was enough.

Grandma continued to live in this house after Grandpa died. I think living there helped her continue to feel the peace of a life well lived.

The house is empty now. Empty and gutted. Soon the house will be demolished. I visited the house Saturday. Just to feel its embrace. I felt waves of my childhood happiness. I felt nostalgic without feeling morose. It is just another reminder of how blessed I am.

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