I have realized I have a lot of homes. Sitting on a bench here in Shirlington, feeling the occasional rogue raindrop hit my bare knee, and wallowing in the humid air that matches the stickiness of the bun I just devoured, I feel like I am back home in Port St Lucie, about 9 or 10 years old, riding my bike through the woods of scrub pines, palmettos, and palm trees. Pine needles line the earth and the air is rich with the smells of not-too-far-off rain and soil and salt.  It’s a little hazy here in Shirlingtaint Lucie, thanks to the low clouds and high temperatures. I’m comfortable in my hand-me-down sundress and flip flops, though – not too hot – and I am resting my hands on my pregnant belly. Occasionally I take a sip of my iced coffee, and the condensation drips onto my arm or stomach. I wipe it off and wish that Mike was here to rest his hand on my belly, too.

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He’s another home for me, and when he’s away I feel a certain hollowness in my heart. Specifically, I have my “spot” that I find most homey, where I lay my head in the center of his chest, ear to sternum, and wrap my arms around him. He wraps me up in an envelope with his strong arms, and I am warm and safe and at home.

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In a few weeks, I will go home to Tallahassee for a baby shower. I lived there for 7 years, my first home away from my parents. I did a lot of growing there, developed lifelong friendships, experienced heartache and joy and a deeper relationship with God that taught me what not to settle for spiritually. I was a single lady in Tallahassee and a newlywed in Tallahassee, was led faithfully by our church (Four Oaks Community church), and had the added benefit of having my parents there, relocated from South Florida. It is home to me, and always will be.

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Now, here I sit in Virginia, which is my current “home.” it hasn’t felt like home to me until recently, and even now doesn’t feel totally like home.  I am petrified that it never will and terrified that it will. Is there any pleasing me?

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Last weekend we spent a lazy Sunday in Del Ray (Virginia). It has an old, small town feel, and after a brunch of apple cinnamon french toast and coke, we strolled down the street and wandered into a small wine shop. I was offered a glass to taste and politely declined as I placed a hand on my belly. Mike, Adam, and Carolyn all sipped it while perusing the rows of reds, whites, sparklings, and blushes. Then I saw it: hard candy sticks:

We used to get these at the general store in Valecruz, NC, when we were little. I still remember the smell of the cedar wood floors, the sight of hand-carved wooden toys, the feel of the yo-yos in my hand as I picked them up to play with (I never could do it). The sticks were a treat for us Garment kids, and at 10 cents a piece, it was an affordable treat for 4 kids. The shop in Del Ray was also selling them for 10 cents, and I picked up a butterscotch stick and a root beer stick. We continued wandering the neighborhood as I sucked on my butterscotch candy, feeling like a child again and feeling at home.

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When I was little, I had these pictures in my mind of where I would live when I grew up. For some reason, most of the time, this fictional home was Virginia (even though I had never been there before). Maybe it’s because I grew up on Fairfax Avenue…?

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I pictured myself on a dusk-lit street with soft yellow, glowing streetlamps, and a glistening sidewalk from a recent rain. I am walking past old, historic walk-ups, much like the ones that exist in old town Alexandria and Georgetown and the cute parts of DC. I am, of course, wearing an adorable houndstooth hat or beret, because in my perfect world, I look fabulous in a cosmopolitan/trendy hat. In reality, they look ridiculous on me. But I digress. This fictional street is glowy and safe and the perfect temperature, and I would always be walking down it with a dark haired, handsome man. He would sometimes be wearing wireframed glasses and a tweed jacket with courderoy elbow patches. Yup, that’s my perfect man. Very professorial.

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I’ve seen glimpses of this fictional scene here in Virginia, and I certainly have the perfect man who feels like home to me (though doesn’t have the elbow patches… I’m working on that).

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So maybe this will be home one day. Maybe not – maybe I will move back to warm, sunny, piney, salty Florida. But no matter what, I now have a new home-maker to enjoy no matter where I am.

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My new piece of home: Ella. I can’t wait to hold little Ella… To push her stroller down a woody trail… to walk her pigtailed frame down a wet, glowing street… To watch her handsome daddy swing her into his arms and let her lay her head on his chest. She will be home there, and so will I.

  1. #1 by Papa and ? on May 2, 2010 - 3:03 pm

    Wow girl…you amaze me with your ability to describe with words what’s on your heart:)! I felt like I was walking with you and Mike and Ella:) enjoying the butterscotch stick. I remember those as well; it’s the little things in life that seem to stay with us. We look forward to seeing you very soon in another one of your homes(Orlando) to celebrate Ella! We love you all. ?

    I grabbed ? as soon as I read this – thanks for sharing your heart. Ella has a wonderful mom, and we are blessed to be part of your family. Love, Papa.

  2. #2 by Allie on May 2, 2010 - 7:30 pm

    Such a sweet post, Laura. Brought tears to my eyes. 🙂 I know what you mean about many homes – I feel the same way.

  3. #3 by laurahinely on May 2, 2010 - 8:48 pm

    ah! Can I have a heart to heart with you about this? I’m planning on a project called “home” or “sense of place” for grad school.

  4. #4 by Jennifer Marley on May 5, 2010 - 2:18 pm

    Lush writing, friend.

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