My mother lives in a small house with a bright yellow kitchen. From every window you can look out and see nowhere, because that’s where my mother lives — in the middle of nowhere.
If you’ve ever driven down a country highway and seen a small house on a vast piece of land and wondered what it would be like to live there, I couldn’t tell you because you can’t see my mother’s house from any highway. To get there, you have to turn down several long, unmarked gravel roads, drive through a cloud of dust until you make a right and the wilderness opens up to reveal the little white house where she and my stepfather live.
It’s in a town that doesn’t even have a traffic light – just a hardware store, a psuedo grocery store and a bar. When we go there, we pack carefully. If we’re making something with tarragon, we’d better bring our own. Tampons? Check. Imported beer? Check. People magazine? Check, check.
Nowhere smells like camp fires and bug spray. It sounds like wind blowing through birch trees. Whenever I get there, my shoulders relax and my neck loses tension. Immediately, I want to grab a book and nap – but first, we always sit out on the deck and stuff ourselves with the food of my childhood: macaroni salad, sloppy joes and chocolate cake with caramel icing. We eat until it hurts and look forward to opening the windows and crawling into bed.
My kids love visiting nowhere. They run through open fields, squealing and yelling because they can. In the morning, we take walks down the dirt road in our pajamas, making small bouquets of daisies, Queen Anne’s lace and yarrow. It’s one of the few places where my ten year-old openly holds my hand.
In the small house, we are forced to be close. We read, play Scrabble, eat generously and sleep in. After a while, the fresh air, chocolate cake and free-time feel like a drug. We turn into the laziest version of ourselves. We eat more, sleep more, laugh more, talk more. But then slowly, after a few days, restlessness starts to set in. We experience withdrawal from technology, friends, restaurants — Target. It’s okay, we realize, it’s time to go home.
We got in late last night. I confess, I was excited be home. I was happy to see my laptop, crawl under my own sheets, eat whole wheat again. I couldn’t wait until this morning to call my friends and check my email.
After a restless sleep. I came downstairs to an empty kitchen. My kids were sitting in front of the TV, watching “Spongebob,” their eyes glazed over. They barely said hello. My husband was in his office on a conference call. He waved, gave me the “shhhh” sign and shut his door.
So here I sit, alone, sipping Starbucks and imaging the wind in the birch trees a million miles away. It’s good to be home, but it’s good to be nowhere, too.