Archives for posts with tag: home

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This painting has little to do with what I’m about to write it is simply one of my favorites

The house is the same as many would imagine a Midwest farm house to be, with it’s wrap around porch, shutters and standard off white paint. A wooden screen door gently taps frame in rhythm with the breeze. The two stories give a deceiving appearance that the structure may contain more than two bedrooms but in fact it does not. Roof covered in gray shingles, sloped to a pitch designed with the idea of discouraging snow from accumulating, gaining weight and collapsing inward, protects the inside from nature. Traditional style curtains can clearly be seen through windows on both floors, indicating the proprietors understanding of roots and willingness to stay with what works.

Infront of the house a large split pasture is seperated from gravel drive and small front yard by white wooden fence. The fence has a stoutness suggesting it is not merely a cosmetic structure but one of function as well. Grass in the yard is clipped much closer to ground than that of the pastures. Amongst this manicured lawn is a lone tree, the sort that stands tall and twisted informing anyone who looks upon it, that it has stood through many seasons and generations in this very spot. A rope plank swing hangs from one of the larger branches, the platforms worn wooden bench, displays years of fun and joy. Off behind the house in a somewhat typical fashion is a red barn, trimmed in the same white as the place of residence. Connected off the right hand side is another pasture, where seven horses can be seen grazing. The enclosing allows animals to freely enter their stalls for water or rest from weather at will. On closer examination large sliding doors can be seen, they can be closed at night containing the beautiful horses safely in thier respective stalls.

Upon entering the home the scent of linseed oil, varnish, and various other smells of oil painting fills the air. These aromas are often accompanied by gentle music softly playing in the background or the clear melody of someone playing live accusticly. Wooden floor, showing care taken to preserve, yet the undeniable pattern that years of those who live here coming and going, leads to a staircase. From staircases bottom both kitchen and family room can be viewed depending on which direction one is looking. An open family room with sofa, end tables holding matching lamps, two chairs and a long wooden record player stereo are the main furnishings, besides a desk in one corner. The desk has feathers, furs, a vise and other items used for the tying of flies, intended to at some later date entice a trout to rise. Beside it is an easel with a painting in progress tenderly perched upon the stained wood, which clearly shows its use. A television is the only furnishing which seems out of place hanging on the far wall in a position guaranteeing that in order to be viewed the chairs must be repositioned. Of course on nights when hockey is being played they are infact turned to face the lone modern device in the room.

Breathing deeply I take in all that is the home of my childhood and all besides nine months of my years on this Earth. Tomorrow evening I will walk from what is now Brooke’s bedroom down these stairs and out the door. Mom will hug me tightly on the porch, we all spend so much time on. She will hand me some extra cash whispering to not tell my father. Brooke will be waiting in the back seat when I climb into the front one next to Dad. I will turn to talk to Brooke as we pull away, in order to see the place I call home and mostly to watch Mom standing on the wooden porch. In a few hours drive time my things will for the second time be carried into a dorm room by my father. He will hand me some cash instructing me not to tell Mom. Brooke and I will hug and kiss goodbye, without words spoken between us. As Dad and Brookelyn get into vehicle I will say mostly to keep myself from crying, “I’ll be home for Thanksgiving!”

-Brooke’s Sister

I felt compelled to add that I am excited about going back to school! I’m also grateful to be going back early, because my early return means I have kept my athletics scholarship and will be returning for the sport, long before classes begin. Yet, it’s all quite bittersweet.

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Legs tired from running up and down the field, where practice has just concluded, slightly shaking do their best to hold my tired frame beneath showers spray. Flip-flops protect my feet from the sorts of elements that live on the white tile floors of locker rooms. The water stings slightly mellowing the tension of overworked muscles. While the absence of ever present chatter of teammates insures that practice has drained even the strength to speak from all present. My mind ponders why this was all I wanted during High School, this chance to be a member of the University women’s lacrosse team. I can only ponder for a moment, I simply lack the energy thought requires.

Slightly recovered by the shower, as if exhaustion washed down the drain with the bits of grass that had clung to my legs. I dress in a white shirt, recalling how proud I’d been when the coaches had issued the shirt with our schools blue simple yet unmistakeable logo on the chest. In appreciation index finger traces the raised letters bellow the emblem, spelling out WLAX. Pride replaces weariness as I spot my roommate, who appears as worn out as myself from the days conditioning. The familiar two words that are known across the country as our schools motto echo off the navy and white walls, breaking the silence. My shout is answered back from dorm mate and teammates alike, as per school tradition. It feels good, hearing upperclassman respond to my voice reassuring that I truly belong.

My new best friend, teammate and dorm mate walks out of the University athletics complex slightly ahead of me. Tapping shoulder of solid muscle going past her, I challenge, “race you to the room!”

Balls of my feet pushing off familiar pavement, breeze in face, I find full stride. It feels good reaching goals, accomplishing dreams and of course as always running. Imagination turns the concrete to the gravel drive of home, crunching with each touch of foot. This burst of energy is more than simple achievements or love of life, it’s the knowledge that in the dorm an email from Brooke waits for me. Without fail there is a message every evening, telling me of all the events of my sister’s day. On this day I can’t wait to tell her my feelings, to share the realization of my success. Also, I need to thank her for all the support and always showing me what it’s like to be a champion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Standing in cap gown on the green grass that my feet have covered during so many practices and lacrosse games, it doesn’t feel real. High School is over, I’ve been accepted at State and should be excited. Yet a melancholy his filled my body all day. My friends are triumphant, they should be, we made it. The accumulation of four years of last minute studying, homework frantically completed before class and of course so much more, is behind us. The laughs, tears, first loves, heartbreaks, close calls and all that we believe to be the biggest moments of our lives. Some of what we’ve done may impact us forever, most was just inflated by our importance of self. None of this accounts for my mood.

Caps fly hi to cheers and youthful whoops. The one that had been pinned to my hair by my mother is of course among them. I have the diploma in leather binder tucked beneath my arm, hugs and congratulations for the scholarship that was announced naming me as recipient are given. My father is taking pictures of me and my friends. My smile is huge, a mask of the true somber tones of this occasion.

One figure in a white dress covered in yellow daisies, symbolic of the purity of the girl wearing it, sits in the now vacated bleachers alone. A setting sun casts a glow around her, fitting her angelic beauty. I quickly try to imagine her in a year sitting there with friends cheering on the football team. Or in five standing on the field in a gown much like the one I am covered in. As I get closer I see she has a sketch book in her hands. I ask if I can see what she is drawing to which I simply get a gesture of no. The sketches are too preliminary to share, they are just for reference, the painting will be given to me on her only visit to see me during my freshman year.

Embracing Brooke my tears that fall down onto her back are matched by her own dampening my shoulder. This is not only a day of recognized accomplishment but a day marking childhood being left behind. She is happy for me in regards to that which I’ve completed but we know in a few short months the room we have always shared will only house one.

As my first summer home from college draws shorter, I’m reminded of graduating and again slightly feeling a familiar meloncholy. I asked Brooke today if she was excited for her freshman year of High School. Dreamy eyes looked at me as she signed, “not really, it means your going away again.”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Paintings and photographs hang from the walls, that enclose what becomes home when full of the love our family shares. There is the one of the ship in a turmoil tossed sea. The endless photographs of family, many of our parents clear favorite, Brooke and me. The painting of our grandparents farm house. It is a work done by an uncle or distant cousin, which I am no longer sure but once could have said. In the kitchen a scene depicts chickens in a dusty yard. My favorite, a portrait, painted by an artist of some renown hangs in the family room against the wall farthest from the fireplace.

Brooke spends hours recreating the paintings with her own hands. Then she moves on to creations of her own, some from mind, others from items in sight. As we grow up, slowly first works of art, then photographs are replaced by pieces in frames father has built in the barn with his wood working tools. The tools with different edges of metal and handles worn shiny and smooth from first grandfathers and now his hands. Mother selects which works of my sisters art replace which others in our home. Until finally the house resembles a museum of dedication to the youngest child. Walls in every room finally full, paintings are swapped when Brooke believes the newest creation is of finer quality. A few of my parents favorites are never touched or moved, others find there way into hands of guests and are taken to new homes. Some are taken from the wall by their creator and placed back on easel and reworked or completely covered with something new. The kitchen has works of windmills in Dutch fields that none of our eyes have seen in person. Or is it now the market of some Mediterranean dream, they change in a pace that makes it difficult to be completely sure.

Where once my favorite portrait hung, a reproduction has taken its place. The reproduction is far superior, or perhaps I am biased in my viewing. The scent of linseed, gum and poppy oil rise from its fresh surface. On the sofa the artist, my sister sits, hands full of magic finding familiar place on a fret board create music only overshadowed by the paintings surrounding us. Inside me I shout, ‘put down that guitar and paint sister, always and forever you must paint!’ Out of respect for all that makes Brooke complete I stay silent.

For the first time in our lives the studying of that which covers our walls is done by the older sister. I memorize each pattern, color, the ridges left by brushes, smoothness created in other places. The magnificant tones that combine to make shadows.

In the attic neatly wrapped is photographs and paintings that once had places on our families walls but no longer have use or bearing. They are missed by no one, least of all myself, only barely remembered. I can’t say when the last one was removed to make space for something of Brooke’s. All I’m sure of is the current wealth of our walls is beyond any I will ever know.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Individual blades of grass sway in the breeze, turning the pasture behind our home into a sea. Brookelyn leads us away from the house, her pink kite trailing behind her. Since I can remember she has had an attraction to flight, or to things with a line. Of course, I too enjoy the brightly colored flying machines that Dad helped us build and Mom assisted us in decorating but Brooke loves them. She thinks they are magical, whereas I tend to take them for granted.

At the time I had no idea how special the home of my youth was. The small two story house much the same as all of our neighbors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen with attached dining space, a family room and not much more in structure. Where the rarity lies is in the hearts of the people who raised us girls in a way that time has left long ago. The more people I in counter in life, the clearer it is that things were unusual to say the least. From the origami toys we made, marbles we pitched, balls bounced in effort to capture jacks, strings pulled to send tops that were hand carved by father spinning across hard wood floors, and of course the homemade kites, our childhood toys were from generations passed.

Our parents could have purchased the newest toys, video games and items we played with when visiting friends if they had wished. Maybe it was influence from our Amish neighbors, or perhaps they wanted us to know an innocence many of our generation has not been granted. Regardless why, there we were making our way through grass kites floating behind us, waiting to be hoisted high into the sky by moving currents of air.

Brooke is the first to get her kite to take full flight and carry up into the heights of sky. Watching the bright pink creation rustle in the breeze, she keeps the line taunt to ensure flight. I watch a while, mostly my sisters smile and eyes before I begin lofting my own. Of course we encounter failures, tangled strings and at times even sorrows as our hours of hard work crash and crumble in the high grass, not on this day however.

We fly our kites without incident until interest fades, leaving us side by side on our backs staring up at moving clouds. Brooke listens as I tell the story the clouds paint, today it’s the typical princess in palace tale. As the story concludes with nights brave rescue, turning to younger sister I ask if she wished we had a video game consoul like our cousins do. Brooke turns to me, nose wrinkled and shakes her head no. Now smiling she signs, “I like building and flying kites and stories of princesses living in the clouds more.”

Now, after a year in a dorm room. Experiences that I never imagined, like traveling with teammates across the country, I understand what our parents gave us in our unusual, by today’s standards, home. In a way it was each other, time dreaming, imagining and playing together. Finishing this post I ask Brooke if she has a kite, and if we are too old to still fly them. Words are quickly scribbled on yellow pad, that is tossed my direction as she bounces up stairs.

“Yes., I made one not that long ago and that’s silly, you can’t get too old to fly kites! We are the perfect age!”

-Brooke’s Sister

The kitchen faucet, as often is the case in small homes, the kind filled with love but not expensive wares, drips. The rhythm of the water bouncing on the stainless sink always much like the beat one feels when casting a fly-line. That steady timing, subtle and ensuring the perfect looping cast; that’s always seemed to come more naturally for my sister than myself. Maybe the always present drip of the kitchen sink that stands out in all my memories of my youth, in some way engraved its way into the silence of my sisters life. Ensuring she would always have that necessary time to keep line just above water’s surface long enough to dry a fly and gentle enough to present it in a way pleasing to the most skittish and finicky of trout.

Snapping thoughts away from the present reminder that I am home, from college for the summer, Brookelyn slides a yellow tablet across the table. Looking at my baby sister, who appears to have grown a lot in the short months since I last saw her, I am aware before I read the words on the tablet of what they will say. Her eyes have told me what she has written. Reading Brooke’s eyes is a skill I’ve developed over the years. Our father in many cases, especially in the days when my sister was younger and less adequate at her preferred ways of communication, has called upon me to do just that; to understand her. This is not to say that I understand her anymore than any sibling understands another. It is more just an intensified observation of nonverbal communication. As to the deeper aspects of Brooke, things like hopes, dreams and desires, assuredly my insight is lacking at best.

From the slightly pink cheeks on the elegantly sculpted face of the prettier of the two Bayer daughters, my eyes make their way down a slender arm, to a gentle hand, that if turned palmed up would reveal calluses on finger tips from hours of compressing strings on a fretboard. There my attention is held for a while. On a hand much the same as my own, though a little smaller and in many ways more adept at the things hands are generally used for, and even more so at a few skills that only certain select people choose to master. Brooke’s nails are painted the color that is her favorite. That softest of blues, reserved for misty skies, babies clothes and on some occasions the prettiest of eyes. The type of eyes belonging to the very person’s hand being studied. Examined as if it may be needed sometime from now as a memory to serve as a point of happiness or contentment in life.

In handwriting as familare as my own, a blue gel pen, has scrolled letters that combined in current combination spell just what I’ve suspected. The looping clear beautiful writing seems to express so much more than if it had come from any source other than the very one it has. Taking a moment to locate the words somewhere in mind, to reply to a statement that seems possibly routine to others. Once again I am aware of the water faucet tapping out the seconds. Normally I tend to talk quite freely with friends and strangers alike, but at times it’s just not like that with Brooke. Seldom concerned about the deepest meaning of words chosen, taking for granted that what is said can be reworded if necessary or possibly that words spoken are such a common event that little consideration is needed in sharing them.

However, reading over the blue ink on yellow legal pad, I’m reminded that speaking can not be taken for granted. For a second I close my eyes desperately trying to imagine a voice. A voice of perfect pitch that would capture the attention of anyone within its range. The very type of voice that is surely more charming than the sirens that led many sailors to their doom on rocky shores. In my racing mind I search for the voice suitable for my angelic, mute little sister. When as always I’m filled with silence, my own voice fills the room.

“Brookelyn, I love you too and I am glad you are happy to have me home.”

-Brooke’s Sister