Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unobliging Vagabonds of the Closet

Charlie Chaplin played one in 1916; so did Sean Penn in 1997. The Man with No Name rather aimlessly drifted in many a Spaghetti Western. Japanese anime depicts characters referred to as "rurouni"s. According to Wikipedia - the harbinger of all truth - Rambo was of the soldier variety. And then apparently, there's me.

A few posts ago I mentioned how often I get asked what my tattoo means. Whatever figure I gave surely pales in comparison to how frequently I'm questioned about "how long I'm going to stay here" (Here: Cumberland County). Sure, I was living elsewhere for 11 years or so. I have had the opportunity to do some neat things in other places. I have friends in much larger cities who I love to visit. For some reason, however, a lot of people seem to assume that these collectively mean I can't be settled, that I can't be genuinely happy, in a place like Marrowbone. I have heard the "well, but how long is she going to be around?"s and the "she'll leave when she gets bored"s. I have caught the skeptical eye squints while trying to express (probably poorly) how much I enjoy being "home."

I've never denied that I need to be challenged. I like to feel inspired, I enjoy trying new foods and art and music and activities, I love to have ready access to cultural and sporting events. Combine this with a deep questioning, or at least exploration, of self and decision, and maybe the logical conclusion is that any vagabond tendencies will ultimately resurface.

I learned long ago to never assume what will happen years down the road; people and circumstances change, often without asking your opinion. But, with no reservation and no hesitation, I can wholeheartedly say that I AM settled. I am happy. I love my front porch. I love driving two miles to see my mom and sister. I love that Isabella and Leigh can walk to my workplace in about three minutes. I love Hamilton's BBQ. I love being within an hour of Dale Hollow Lake, and Mammoth Cave, and Cream & Sugar pancakes. I love having Sunday dinners with my family. I love that former teachers and mentors are now friends who come in the Library for our organic coffee and chocolate bar. I love the support this community has shown to my family and to Turner Farm. I love my garden beds. I love Houchens, even if most stuff is overpriced and about to expire. I love Main Street 210 and The Yellow Ribbon Trading Post. I love walking Lucy and Willie in my pajamas and still feeling perfectly comfortable waving at Misty Dubre as she heads to work at the Extension Office. I love interacting, as adults, with high school friends. I love how much we laugh at the Library. I love all the interesting characters that are town fixtures. I love that Tj, Todd, Allen, Stevie, Jimmie, and I had a goat follow us while running a few days ago. I love all the animals at Mom's farm.

When going through some of my storage boxes a few days ago, what I realized is thus: while to some - those who will actually believe me - I am vagabond no more, to myself, I never really was. In each of the cities, apartments, and houses I have lived, I have carted around and carefully stored pieces of family, reminders of friendships, tokens of laughter, and tangible connections to home and childhood. The ties have been there even if the strings were loosened.
These items have been packed. They have traveled. But they also speak of roots. (I have decided to focus on childhood objects and letters in this post. There will be a follow-up dedicated to Senior pictures and Senior Albums:)).
Grover was always my favorite. In this particular book, one filled with my green crayon marks, he plays hide and seek with the reader. I LOVED this book.
Mom and Dad gave me this doll when I was probably 8 or 9. If you are a Pillow Book follower, you might remember a post similar to this one where I showcased my packing techniques and strategies...I am amazed this doll is neither broken nor naked. And, I think she is just lovely. I would like to give her to a daughter (or if that doesn't happen, to Isabella) one day.
This just makes me laugh. For about 14 years, I have kept this button-inspired, ceramic paperweight of me giving a thumbs-up. Mrs. Charlotte, I either really liked art class, or I was astute enough to realize how ridiculous this would look tucked between my favorite childhood books and family heirlooms. Well-played 17-year-old Liza.

I am so grateful for my GSP experience. Were it not for this six weeks in Danville, I probably would have never gone to Centre, a decision that made me a better student, thinker, and human being. Plus, I got to have Philosophy class with a cute boy named John. That's right, I had a crush on a boy who signed his letters as such.
If any of you know a John Walker from the Ft. Thomas area, make sure you tell him that Liza Turner says "Hi" and is still hoarding pictures and letters from/of him. That isn't creepy at all.
This is one of the first, if not THE first, letter I ever received from Caroline Dale Kraft. Some 13 years later, we're still putting pen to paper.
Look! She even signed her last name:)
And I quote, "I like you more than any girl I've dated SINCE MY EX." Wow, that really wasn't a compliment at all.:)


  1. Lovely post, Liza. Roaming out of (and back to) our comfort zones, both literally and figuratively, is how we grow. I think coming "home"--whether it be to reside or to revisit--is a centering mechanism that means more and more to me as I grow older. Even though I am raising my family away from my original home, visiting the land where I grew up and letting my children know that place is helping me feel less "scattered" in my chaotic life. Sometimes when we visit the farm to hike or canoe, I find myself tucking stones from the creek into my pockets to bring home to my desk or helping the kids find their own mementos from that place-- sticks, feathers, or even a toy or book from my childhood home. It feels good to be connected. I'm so glad you are "settled" and are sharing the satisfaction of it-- you've given me a new perspective of Cumberland County, more than you know. On another note, I chuckled when I noticed your reading list above-- I just finished The Help yesterday and Bossypants was next in the stack on my nightstand. I read a little of the first chapter and laughed out loud. I'm so looking forward to the rest of it!

  2. Thank you so much, Melissa. Important things first...Bossypants absolutely made many a night for me. I would read a chapter before bed and on most occasions, literally sit around laughing out loud. I included excerpts from one of my favorite chapters 4 or 5 posts ago.
    Secondly, the way you briefly articulated the meaning of home reminded me how much I would love to see you do another Pillow Book post. You have a wonderful way of making insightful, meaningful points without coming across as kitschy or overly dramatic. If you ever feel inspired, I would truly love to see you "pen" another one.

  3. Yes, it is a little creepy....but no more creepy than me quietly following your blog for the past year:)

  4. :) I'd be far more embarrassed if I thought there was ANY chance this was actually my long long crackwhore. Thank you, clever friend of mine for nonetheless making my heart skip a beat for a minute:).

  5. Just had the fun of reading this post. It warmed my heart. I just can not imagine how you pull all your writings together. I appreciate all you are.

  6. Likewise, Aunt Carolyn. I appreciate all you are - and have been - to me and Mom, Leigh, and Adrienne.

  7. I am so glad you came back home. I also realize that home is where your heart is no matter where you are. I love who you are and the life you have made for yourself. To see you happy and content brings me great joy. Lots of Love, Mom

  8. Lots of love to you, Mom. I have a wonderful life and feel fortunate in so many ways. Thank you for being such a good example of kindness, and strength, and silliness:)