But since this conference in Indy that Devin had, I had not been back there for two years. Not since my grandmother's funeral. On my agenda for this long awaited trip was to visit with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandpa, and to go out to the house where my grandpa and grandma lived. That house, in the place that owned my heart, was home base.
I thought I would be fine going over there, helping my grandpa sort through odds and ends, and just wandering through memories. I drove, and as I drove I could feel myself in the backseat seeing the scenery fly by as I had as a child. Left turn on New Garden. Past the tiny church. Past the cemetary. Over the little bridge. Past the house where the man keeps kangaroos. Left turn. Check mailbox after mailbox until! The big blue house appears, surrounded by what must have been countless hours of labor in a yard full of love. I was fine through all of that.
I got out of the car, and looked around. I saw where my grandpa had built the trolley. I saw the pond that used to have ducks. I saw the front pasture and the back pasture where I used to ride with my grandpa on the riding mower. I saw the garden where I used to sit, weeding in the sun, trying desperately to think of an excuse to go help grandma in the kitchen instead. I saw the place where the swing set was, and the trampoline. I saw the old barn where we had to go to the bathroom one summer when we had overloaded the toilets. I was fine through all of that.
We walked to the door, and the first thing I saw as the door opened was the carpet. Simple brown carpet. And for a while, as my eyes teared over, that was the last thing I could see. Why carpet? Of all things that held memories in this place, why the silly brown carpet?
That brown carpet holds the memories of countless dreams as I napped on it while my cousins raced cars and played cards around me. It held the images of a thousand movies watched while lying on its floor, surrounded by family, munching popcorn as we smiled at the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. That carpet held my knees for a thousand family prayers, after which I would get up and kiss my grandma on the cheek, and give my grandpa a big hug.
I think what hit me hardest about the carpet though, was its very stability. It's consistency, its constant just being thereness. The duck pond came and went, the trampoline wasn't up every year, I seldom actually went in the barn, and there was always some new adventure to be had at Grandma and Grandpa's. But that carpet, it never changed. And in my childhood, and into my teenage years, when I was uncertain who I was or where I belonged, when I sat on that carpet I knew exactly who I was, and I loved being exactly where I was.