Monday, January 2, 2006

January 2, 2006: A Different Life

I cannot come to Indiana to visit my husband's family without imagining a life in an old white farmhouse. I can see myself washing dishes while watching my kids out the kitchen window. In the winter the cornfields are harsh and stubby and the trees are bare. I would be able to see the children for a mile or more--see them tromping through the woods or testing the ice on the pond. In the winter the snow would come and bury us inside our drafty house, and we'd haul in wood and bake bread.

I cannot visit my hometown in upstate New York without imagining a life there. What if we lived in one of those big white farmhouses with the widow's watch facing Seneca Lake, with a view of the lonely expanse of vineyards rolling down to the gray lake? I could sit in the widow's watch and wait for my husband to come home on snowy roads. Or we could live in the town where I grew up, like nearly all my high school friends still do. We could eat at Uncle Joe's and walk fast, the way we do in New York.

How can all that midwestern and eastern expanse make me feel so claustrophic? I breathe easier as we drive down Interstate 75 from Indiana and start coming into the mountains. It's a wet day, and the mists settle on the mountains like wisps of tulle. I love to be enveloped in their shadows and then reach a peak a crane my neck to look down into the valleys. I'm even happy to see the maligned kudzu, sad and scraggly in the winter woods.

It's good to be home.

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