The baby is red faced and his hair is stuck to his head. The backs of my legs are soaking wet as I get out of the car, even though the air conditioner has been on full blast the whole drive over. There is an internal draining feeling that comes with this time of day in a heat as hot as this, but as I approach the little rock house that stands here on Aggie Lane, I can hear the whirring of the window units cooling the inside of this special cocoon I am about to enter. The little flower bed in front of the door holds only fresh herbs, a few small, lumpy watermelons and three giant sunflowers. Over time, I have created a private ritual of releasing all my negative energy into that small patch of earth before entering this sanctuary of mine. It seems the magical Danny grows amazingly hot jalapenos from the anger and meanness I throw there.
We enter the space, the screen door whacks me on the back of my calves as I try to slow it down to keep it from slamming against the frame. The cold air flushes across my body and the darkness of the room inside reaches for me like a mother’s arms. It seems the world stops within these walls, at this time of day at Mary’s house. Many times that I arrive, there is a simmering pot of soup on the stove. It might be a fifteen-bean soup. Not that I ever knew about a fifteen-bean soup before in my life, nor that I would ever want to eat it, but I so wanted to eat it now.
This is the most precious, coveted gift for all tired, working parents with young children. Only on a weekend day can it happen, where we can be included in this the sacred nap. Everyone in this house participates. The world shuts down. All worries are set aside and rest for a bit, such a blessed peace.
I have invited myself to this event, as I am just an interloper. I am called to it, the secret of calm and peace that happens on this day, at this time. A tiny tug inside warns me that I shouldn’t stop by every Saturday, so I work hard to miss a few, but oh I want to be included. Can’t we just rest on the couch for a bit? The baby and I won’t bother anyone; we find it so easy to rest here.
The early phases of adulthood seemed complicated and cloudy, the answers so far away. Determined to walk my steps each day believing they would take me to the next phase, I was always hopeful it would be clearer and more bountiful than that day.
Living life and children grown, they have long since moved from Aggie Lane. The aura of that peaceful calm surrounds my friendship with them always and welcomes me into their lives where ever they are. Many chapters of our lives passed through and around that solid place of peace. It was always an anchor in the chaos of my life. If I could center myself there in that space (in my mind), I could pace myself through situations much more clearly. Realizing it was not the place itself, it was the strength and will of the people in that house that taught me peace and how to find it, that was the true treasure.
The tides have turned. It is my turn to bring some solace and peace. Sweet Mary is left to darn the fraying edges of her world of peace and calm, as she watches it leak out. Lovely Dan was taken painfully, yet quickly by that pancreatic monster. Having him move on to another leg of his journey without her so suddenly, and at the point in their life in which they planned a great adventure, this has left her stunned and hollow for the moment.
I want to protect her and comfort her. I feel her fears: How is she to unravel them and become the only one? Maybe these are more my fears for her, I truly do not doubt her strength and might. Batten down the hatches, if you will, she will regain the balance that was so prevalent what seems like only moments ago. Having solace for so long, it is a bit unnerving to see fragments of chaotic life seeping into her existence. As one to whom she always brought love and light, I will stand by her and seek for her the tranquil spirit of Aggie Lane.
Kelly Bell was born and raised in central Texas and is native to all things southern, with the added flair of a maternal Italian and paternal east Texas family mix. Her two boys, ages 25 and 17; life-partner, Susie; and two girls ages 10 and 13, bring all the light into her life. She writes in her spare time in hopes of helping others discover that they too can live outside the little boxes of conformity and conventionalism.