Kristin Tatum

 

 

 

The House on the Corner

 

The summer sun’s golden rays shone through my glass window and tickled my eyes from sleep.  I lay in bed for quite some time in an attempt to silence the uneasy feelings churning in my stomach.  Moving day.  The day you officially move out and become a functional or dysfunctional person in this world. 

“Kris, are you up?” Mom called from the newly-remodeled kitchen where the aroma of coffee filled the air.  Stay quiet.  Don’t say anything, I thought to myself.

 “Yes,” I responded.  “Crap!” I mumbled while rolling my irritated eyes.  My mouth completely ignored my brain’s message.  It’s always had a mind of its own. 

“Well, you better get up.  You have a long and exciting day ahead of you,” she said as her voice faltered.  Anxiety and worry rolled off her lips as she spoke.  I was, after all, the baby, the baby-turned-college graduate who was hired as a first-grade teacher for the upcoming school year in Valdosta, Georgia.  Home, for the past ten years, was the brick house on the corner of Lakeshore Drive in small town Montezuma, Georgia.  The distance, two hours, would now separate my strong, family roots from my exciting, new adult life.

Wandering around the house, heavy emotions flooded my thoughts.  I found myself saying goodbye to every object I passed along the way.  A myriad of photos displayed on oversized bookshelves, and an old, worn out coffee table strewn with picture books caught my eye.  Staring at them evoked memories of late-night Lingo games on television with my sister where the contestants race to guess the correct five letter word, scary and unstable high school prom dates, and afternoon golf practices with Dad.  He had always hoped I would play on the LPGA Golf Tour.  Who knows? I might change my mind after a few years with snotty noses and teeth that fall out on cue, I thought.  Why was I being so sentimental?  Do parents throw away your house key when you walk out the door?  I warily checked my key ring.  The key was still there.

“Dad, can you help me with the last bit of my stuff?” I hollered from my once full, now bare room, a room once littered with pictures of friends, black and white pom-poms (Go Raiders!), and dried corsages assembled with discolored ribbons from those unstable prom dates.  Those items, those memories, had been stripped and boxed.  Some of the boxes rested in the attic to collect dust, and some would make the journey with me, the journey I was still not ready to face. 

“All packed,” Dad said as he passed Mom in the kitchen trying hard to hide how he was feeling about his baby leaving.  Our connection had always been different from the one he had with my sister.  As a little girl, I would fall asleep beside him, and my mom would be left with the task of carefully moving me into my room.  What is it with little girls and their daddies?

The front door slammed shut snapping me from my thoughts, and I listened intently to try and recognize the person’s voice.  It was my sister, Jill.  I should have known she would show up for one last Lingo match, although the time wouldn’t allow for us to play.  I hurried to join in the laughter radiating from the family-filled kitchen. 

 The time had arrived.  We all strolled out the front door and down the crooked path that led to my white Nissan Pathfinder overflowing and ready to take me away.  The heat from summer sun beat down on my face.  “Remember to call me when you get there and wear your seatbelt,” reminded Mom. 

Dad secretly slipped a $100 bill in my pocket and whispered, “Be careful.”

 Still in shock that I was old enough to live on my own, Jill managed to squeeze out, “I love you.”  She didn’t need to say anything else.  I already knew she was going to miss me.

            I anxiously started my car and stared out the window at my family, the exceptional people who had carefully molded and shaped me into the woman that I had become.  And I drove.  I drove away and left the brick house on the corner of Lakeshore Drive in Montezuma, Georgia.  My home.