Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seeking Those Familiar Places When Times Are Tough

In my former life in journalism, I wrote a personal column that was printed in the newspaper each Friday. I tried not to skip too many weeks. Some of my columns were worth reading. Some, well, not so much.

Although I often dreamed of my columns being considered good enough to be compiled into a book, that never happened. But I did attempt to keep a collection of all my columns. I have a blue binder containing most of the ones I wrote during those more than two decades buying ink by the bucket.

Someone asked if I would share an old column here from time to time. Since some of them are like old friends and I enjoy "visiting" them, I will honor that request. This column ran in December 2002.

Human nature is a funny thing.

When life gets too intense, we tend to seek out

Whether it’s a mother’s shoulder to cry on, a
grandparents’ home to visit or just a plot of land in
the middle of nowhere, we can often find solace in

Whenever life seems at its worst for me, I have
familiar places where I gravitate.

When times got toughest as a student at Mississippi
University for Women, I’d find myself at the “Jesus

Looking on a campus map, you’d never locate this spot.
It’s not officially marked as the “Jesus bench” at
all. It’s a simple, concrete bench - a gift from an
earlier graduating class at The W - that was positioned
on front campus almost directly across from the school’s Baptist
Student Union house.

Seeking direction often during that period in my life,
I tended to walk around the beautiful campus.
Sometimes the walks came during the day while other
times I chose to walk at night. Many of the walks were
solitary ones, but often friends would join me as I
traipsed around that campus in the heart of downtown Columbus.

One of the more frequent co-walkers was Lynda Harris,
my best friend at the time. Many times we ended up on
front campus with Lynda sitting at one end of the
“Jesus bench” and me standing and/or pacing on what
was left of the other. We’d debate theology, talk
about dreams and goals or discuss future plans we had
for our lives. Since I was a senior and Lynda was a
sophomore, some of our talks centered on how we
intended to remain in close contact after my

Odd how some things don’t happen as you plan them.

Growing up in Corinth, I could always find complete
solace on the front porch of Granny Hughes’ Franklin
Street home. No matter what mood I was in when I got
there, life got better perched on the top step of that

One of my earliest tastes of freedom came when I
learned to ride a bicycle. I started out with a small
blue bike that almost every one of my cousins and my
sister used to perfect the bike-riding skill. Being
the youngest, I got the bicycle when it was far from
its prime. But I loved it all the same.

One Christmas, I got a green three-speed bicycle that
upped my freedom greatly. The next summer, some of my
neighbors and I began riding our bicycles around town.
One of them owned a bicycle that had an odometer attached to his front
wheel and we found it was not unusual for us to cover
60 or more miles in a day.

Much of my rides included trips across town to Granny
Hughes’ house. Most of the time, I’d arrive at her
house, store my bike under her side porch and let
myself in because she was always talking on the phone
when I got there. It wasn’t until years later that I
realized Granny had stood at the door and watched
until she saw me peddling down the street and would
then phone Mama to let her know that her youngest had
safely completed her journey.

My bike riding ended about the same time I got my
driver’s license - which upped my freedom of mobility
a great deal. Even though I could get further in the
Gremlin (aka Jose the Wonder Car) than I could on my
bicycle, I’d find myself frequenting the same places.

Especially Granny’s front porch.

Mama, Aunt Peggy and Aunt Millie put Granny’s house on
the market shortly after her death in 1979. My parents
considered buying the house themselves, but I think my
negative reaction - given out of a heart broken from
grief - was one of the deciding factors in not
purchasing it.

And though my home is filled to the brim with
memories, there are times today when I wish we’d made
that move across town.

In 1992, life as I knew it changed forever when Mama
died. A few Christmases later, I deeply missed the
tradition of gathering on Franklin Street that our
family had followed for years. Depressed and dejected,
I found myself once again being drawn to that front
porch. Knowing the owners, I felt quite confident that
they wouldn’t mind if I spent some time on the stoop
in an attempt to relieve my holiday blues.

As I sat there wishing I could have just one more
Christmas in the house, I didn’t realize that the
owners were actually inside. Seeing me on the front
porch, and knowing what memories that home held for
me, they came to the door and asked if I wanted to
come in for a visit.

It was probably the best Christmas present I’ve ever

Even today, I find myself drawn to that home on
Franklin Street when life deals its hardest blows. I
don’t stop and sit on the front porch as often as I
once did. I’m trying to learn to suck it up and work
it out on my own. Thankfully, though, I know the
couple who call the house their home today.

And I honestly think they will understand if, one day,
they look out the window and see me sitting there.

1 comment:

Pam D said...

Yay! I still have the binder you gave me... and I do hope that someday, you'll end up making a book out of it. But not before you add some more to it. Your perspective has changed... you look "up" a lot more and tend to look farther in the distance. There's a difference in what and how you write... and I like it. Oh, and ... I love you, Kim Jobe!