My morning coffee sits cooling on the antique dresser in my favorite room of the house. The rocker in which I soothed both babies moves me gently. It is my favorite room for many reasons. It is the smallest room which makes it cozy. It’s painted a soft sage green that gives me a feeling of serenity each time I remember to come in and sit. It’s decorated in American country with a simple white duvet-set edged in sage green beaded embroidery stitching and above the bed hangs a large framed picture that seems a copy of this very room: an iron bed between two windows, a grassy treed landscape beyond the sheer white curtains and a black and white cat curled sleeping on the crumpled bedding. My own black and white cat, Hermione, is now curled in the same position in front of the open window to my left. It is also my favorite room as I remember the person who painted it with me and for me not so long ago. And it is my favorite because it holds so many objects from my childhood – rag dolls, my porcelain birthday doll, a china tea cup, and paper dolls under the glass topped night table.
If I close my eyes, I can pretend that the cool morning breeze, being moved by the ceiling fan, is somewhere else. I visualize other places where I have lived – OK, MN, further north in Phoenix. Three weeks ago I was in Paris, a year ago in London, three years ago in Italy. I think of New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Rochester, MN, KS, OK, TX, WI, LA – all the places I have traveled, experienced, hated and loved.
I left my home state at age twenty-three. Days before the move, I asked my now ex-husband to show me MN on the map. I had visited five states in the central plains but beyond that, my geography was poor. A little girl from Enid, OK – naïve, protected, inexperienced, shy and frightened. Little did I know that one day I would fly in an airplane instead of traveling by car and that that would expand to all the places I’ve now been. I almost didn’t make that move in 1969 and sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed. Would I have been happier, more content, more settled? I’ll never know, for none of us, except George Bailey each Christmas, can look back at the forks in the road of our life, just as we can’t see the future that lies ahead.
When I was a little girl I played “house” and all I wanted was to be a mother and a wife. Occasionally I lined my dolls up in rows while I stood at my easel chalk board. Then I began to buy paper dolls of Hollywood stars and one day I thought about seeing New York City. Those thoughts faded in high school and I assumed that after college I would settle into a small frame house in Oklahoma. I think back on that decision to make the long drive north to a state I’d never heard of, and I wonder…
There have been many rocky roads and hills and valleys on this journey as well as several major forks where I had to take a leap of faith and choose. I’d love to sit here and say what a wise woman I was – how brave and strong – but that would not be the truth. I sit here in this calm green room and wonder how I got here, as we all do.
For almost always, I have simply prayed and closed my eyes, and put one foot in front of the other and let life happen and let God lead. I have felt guilt for never returning home. I have felt sadness over the losses I have endured. I have felt tremendous fear at all the changes that faced me, and anger at those forced upon me. But this morning as I drink my coffee, as I drink in the beauty of this room, as I look at photos of children and France, as I email friends across the country, as I wish so hard I could see the next ten years, I also weep for what I’ve had, for what I’ve done, for what I’ve accomplished, and I say a prayer of thanks to God for leading me to this peaceful place and time in my life. I never have to be strong or brave when I let God lead. I know that whatever happens in the next ten years will be designed to complete my journey and is in His capable hands.