As usual I came across it late one night. Or one would say I came upon it very early that morning. The clock said 2:24 a.m. early. It made me tear up as soon as I glanced at it. It was an old photo of two elderly women sitting beside one another on the porch swing. They were not sisters but did favor one another. They were dressed similar in their floral dresses with long sleeves.
It brought such an immediate feeling of home when I studied it. The photo said it was taken in the 1930’s. It was no doubt taken in the South. There is such a sense of kinship in the South. Such an overwhelming feeling of belonging. Belonging whether you want to or not. You belonged because you came from the red clay here. You came from the thick forests of pine. You came from the thick, sticky, smothering air that you once thought you wanted to escape. You are a descendant. Your greatgrandparents last names still crowd out all the other last names in the phone book. These descendants of Smith and Case.
We were desperately poor for a summer and winter when we came back to this place of red clay. My father found work and we settled very close to these wonderful grandparents. We had a four room house with no bathtub. But it never dawned on me that it wasn’t fun to walk to Macase’s house every evening and get our baths. It would be so dark we could hardly see. I remember putting the clean panties on my head as a beacon of light for them to follow and my sisters did the same. So we walked with the panties on our heads in the dim light to find our way there. I can only hope we didn’t try to do the same on the way back.
We feast on cornbread and milk served in a glass while there. It was a good supper. Pop dries the dishes as Macase washes them. I am very young and don’t realize how well I would remember the insignificant events of the days. But how could I? I was so young and dreamed of things to come and places to go. These days when I was dreaming of escaping to where the air wasn’t so thick, sticky and smothering.