Almost There, Home

This morning I almost touched it. The past. Home.

I closed my eyes and I was almost There. There, where I’m nobody’s distant relative, or forgotten or estranged friend. There, where people don’t wield murderous thoughts, words, or actions like bloody bayonets. There, where cities don’t burn and life in the country is full of possibility, not aching with loss.

This morning I felt I belonged again like I did then, and it was good. I understood the world and my place in it. For a moment I forgot.

There’s an hour in the morning when the world is fresh. Most days I sleep right through it, but today I was out at dawn with a flashlight looking for Rudy the Rooster. I’ve become attached to him, not because he deserves it, but for what he represents: the past. Home.

Rudy showed up out of the blue last summer and followed us everywhere. We were charmed by a stalker. When he crowed, I instantly remembered the sound of being There, living nextdoor to a neighbor with chickens. Rudy’s full-throated songs to the dawn are sounds I never realized I didn’t hear anymore. Until I did.

So I love his voice, if not the rooster. He’s become a bit of a barnyard terrorist and I’ve learned not to turn my back on him. Once, after he hurled himself at the back of my legs, I nearly dispatched him with a rake, and The Professor swears he’ll take a pitchfork to him someday. But neither of us have. For now, Rudy lives to crow another day.

Last night he holed up God-only-knows-where before I could lure him into the coop with bread crumbs. Foxes and coyotes visit regularly. I can’t say I lost sleep over it but I did get up when he began crowing at 4:30, and I went out into the dawn, looking for that chicken. And once again, in the early morning listening to him crow from the garden fence took me back.

It took me back to the days when I was a child, running carefree, confident, and barefoot to the barn through the dewy grass. It took me back to the promise of an early morning and a young girl’s joy in simple things and in life itself.

It took me back to a time when people cared about each other, when we weren’t so damn mean. To a time when yes meant yes and no meant no. When we felt secure in the world and our place in it. To a time when we didn’t wish everyone would just shut up and leave us alone. When I didn’t wish that.

In that hour this morning, I closed my eyes, and ever so briefly I was There again, or almost. In the past. Home.

And it was good.

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