The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:05 am Thursday, November 9, 2017
By Julie Terry Cartner
She really didn’t want to go. She’d dithered all morning putting on various outfits, trying to decide what would make her more comfortable, then finally decided clothes were not going to make her comfortable regardless of what she wore. She just didn’t want to go. What would she possibly have to say to people she hadn’t seen in forty years? What could they possibly have in common? The awkward silences would surely outweigh the “Remember when’s.”
She realized that if she didn’t make a decision, she was going to be late. Not that being late would be so terrible; after all, it would reduce the amount of social time she had to suffer through. Mentally slapping herself, she grabbed a pair of black pants and a lacy top. Good enough. Quickly donning them, she headed out the door and jumped in her car. All the way to campus she sang along with the radio, ignoring the fact that she was going somewhere that was going to make her very uncomfortable at best, downright miserable at worst. If only Jim hadn’t pestered her until she gave in. “Got to give him credit though,” she thought, he’s a heck of a salesman. Who could say no to his perseverance? Clearly, she couldn’t.
Arriving near campus, she found a parking space and headed for the gym. She walked up to the registration counter and received her badge – complete with a red ribbon stating “40th reunion, and all she could think was, “You might just have well put the word OLD!” Wow, forty years; who would have thought time would go by so quickly?
Turning around, she immediately saw her college suitemates. Out of all the people at the reunion, those two were the ones she really wanted to see but were afraid to see. When she moved off campus, things changed. She did it for the right reasons; her living expenses dropped to almost nothing, but she gave up her last two years in a dorm she had called home for the first two years of her college life. More importantly, she gave up the close friendship of the two now facing her. “How would this go?” she wondered.
She needn’t have worried. Within seconds the three were in each other’s arms, hugging and talking a mile a minute. There was so much to catch up on and so much to remember. Their memories were not all the same, but between the shared memories and the separate ones, they formed a patchwork quilt of life then and life now. It amazed her how quickly they re-connected and how nice it was to be with people who knew her when. These were the people who knew her at her worst, people who knew her at her best.
There’s something so comfortable, so real, so warm about being with people who were with her at the Saturday afternoon football games, the Sundays in the library, the weekday meals in the cafeteria, the early morning classes when she only took the time to brush her teeth before running up three flights of stairs for an eight o’clock class, and the afternoon classes when she had to struggle to stay awake. These were the people who sat beside her in the lobby watching favorite television shows, the people who went with her on long walks or longer bicycle rides, the people who yelled down the hall when she had a phone call from the one phone – a pay phone at the end of the hall, the people who stayed up all night with her as they all worked on projects, crammed for final exams or wrote yet another paper. These were the people who comforted each other when they broke up with high school boyfriends, the people who were happy for each other when they formed new relationships, and the people who came to each other’s games or performances and cheered and supported each other. These were the people who grew up beside her as she was growing up beside them.
Then time, and distance, and life separated them, and she feared the gap was insurmountable. Each moved on, found jobs, got married, had children. Forty years later, mostly retired, with children who have moved on to their own lives, they return. And suddenly, there she is, back with the people who knew her when, and it’s beautiful.
By Linda Barnette
Today as I was looking at some old family pictures, I started thinking about home-where it is, what it is, and how we find it-many thoughts going back through time and space and memory.
I remember going to the Hartley family reunion in a remote section of Davidson County near the Yadkin River in an area known as the “neck.” This was short for Horseshoe Neck Road, the place where the family had settled in the late 1700’s. For miles, we passed only a few houses, and the trees were thick and still green in those early Septembers. The road was dusty, and the homeplace was a large white house sitting on top of a hill not too far from the river. In fact, the road circled around the bottom of the hill and ended. Many people came to these reunions, and the yard was filled with long tables of food.
My dad was strange about what he would eat, so I never saw what all they had. I’m like him in that way too in that I am very picky when it comes to what I eat. In any case, I never really enjoyed those reunions and as a child did not see the fascination the adults seemed to have about them.
We also went to other homecomings such as the ones at Jerusalem Baptist Church, Daddy’s childhood church, and also to Center Methodist, which was the church my grandmother Smith grew up in. I was taught early to take flowers to the cemetery to put on the graves of ancestors long gone, and now I remember my parents and grandparents in that way.
When I grew up and moved away, I stopped attending most of the family gatherings simply because I lived too far away, and I was busy with my new life of studying, teaching and the typical things that young folks do. I lived in several cities during those years, and yet there was something about Mocksville that kept calling to me. Eventually, my family moved back here and became involved in working, making a living and that sort of thing. During those years I developed a strong interest in genealogy and began to research my family tree. This search was precipitated by the death of my dad at a relatively young age in 1985. His last request was that I take him to visit the homeplace, which I did, and have always been so glad. Watching his reaction to that place made me realize there is some sort of longing for home in all of us, and that’s when I began to seriously study our family tree. The study has turned out to be very complex because we all have so many ancestors. Yet it is a great hobby for people like me who love history.
However, it is much more than a mere hobby. When I’m doing research in Davidson County, for example, I visit all of the places where the family lived and always go to the cemeteries where my people are buried from as far back as the early 1800’s. I feel called to do this. So in a much larger sense than just a house, my home is where my people lived. The land upon which they once walked and lived is sacred to me, hallowed, where I can feel both the past and present, a connection that is almost unexplainable, mystical even, but I am part of them and they of me, and we will meet each other again one day. It is true that home is where the heart is, where we feel welcomed and loved, where we are bound to others who will take care of us, and whom we cherish.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to go to just one more of those family reunions!!
By N. R. Tucker
Jamie rolled over and buried his head under his pillow when his mom called. It couldn’t be time for school. She called his name again, much angrier now. He rolled out of bed, threw on his clothes, and went into the kitchen, where he promptly spilled orange juice down his shirt. After a quick change, Jamie ran to catch the bus, grabbing a couple of bacon slices when he passed through the kitchen. After sleeping in, he didn’t have time for the full breakfast his mom had cooked, but it sure did smell good.
At school, Jamie realized his English homework was still on his desk at home. Mr. Bellows didn’t believe him and handed him a detention slip. At lunch, after a food fight he wasn’t involved in, Jamie’s shirt was covered in spaghetti, and he had to wear the stain for the rest of the day. Everyone thought he had been part of the fight, and he got another detention.
Coming out of class and into the open sitting area where the nuns meditated back when the building was part of the nunnery, Jamie tripped and took Allen down with him, which resulted in a broken wrist for the starting quarterback. Allen would be benched for the rest of the season, and the first playoff game was in two days. The whole school heard the news and knew Jamie was to blame. He would be lucky to get off the bus in one piece today. The only good news was Jamie would be on the late bus, thanks to detention.
Once home, Jamie breathed a sigh of relief. At least the day was over… except for that annoying buzz. He swatted at the buzz, and the alarm turned off. Jamie sighed in relief. The entire day had been a dream.
“Jamie,” his mother called.
Jamie rolled over and buried his head under his pillow. It couldn’t be time for school. She called his name again, much angrier now. He sat straight up when he realized the day was starting all over again.
“From Art to Self-Discovery”
By Stephanie Williams Dean
“Music and art should be fit in on weekends.” Once overheard from a child counselor who touted sports as the most important extracurricular activity for kids, I couldn’t have disagreed more. It’s not that I considered sports unimportant. Absolutely not. Sports are vitally important to a child’s mental and physical development but certainly not to the exclusion of art or music.
Ideally, art and music would be integrated into the everyday life of a child. For it is in this world where a child truly discovers “self.” When one finds self, one experiences creativity and recognizes individual talents, all revealed through personal expression. When occupying this space, their humanity is expressed.
In a world of music and art, one learns to be quiet and truly hear. One becomes in touch with their spiritual nature and discovers their unique connection to the universe. While we seek a kindred spirit with mankind, we desire a much greater connection. When one’s senses are tantalized with melody and instrumentation and hands are occupied with expression through creation, one is in touch with newly discovered self. Self-sufficiency is promoted with less neediness and reliance on other people, yet sustained is a deeper connection to mankind in a greater sense of the word.
We empower our children when we strongly support music and art as primary studies and not just “fit ins” as runners-up to academic studies or sports. The more experiences to which children are exposed, the more opportunities they will have when grown. Adults tend to gravitate toward activities they enjoyed as children. Unfortunately, as children, some people were never introduced to music or art and have no interest in either as adults.
Children without art or music are equivalent to bodies with power but without necessary ground wires to operate optimally. Ground your children in art. Immerse them in music. Expose them early. Accompany them to plays, symphonies, concerts, and theater at wee ages you believe are too young for them to derive enjoyment. Go anyway. Create quiet time for art at home or enroll them in group classes. Your children will be better for it.
My early childhood years were heavily influenced by art and music. Later, I carried my own preschool children out of theaters, asleep and slung over my shoulder, more times than I can count. Today, as grown, well-rounded adults, fully indoctrinated into the arts, they hear every note of life’s lovely music, are witness to each beautiful stroke of creation, and feel deeply concerned for mankind.