Liv’In the Life


The evening my mom told my niece, Olivia, that ‘Kelly was moving from Chicago to Kentucky’, the 7-yr. old dear nearly cried herself to sleep. She was inconsolable. “But I don’t WANT Kelly to move to Kentucky”, she sobbed. Olivia loves Chicago. She met it when I moved there, 1 year after her birth. She has visited many times, been to many museums and eaten foods she can’t find in her hometown of Springfield. Within moments of arrival once, she took a big whiff of the air and, “AhH! That SMELLS LIKE Chicago!!” “What smell?,” we asked. “Trucks,” she replied. Fuel. Smog. Pollution. City.

One of the perks of this KY place is the porch. It has the most perfect quadrants, is atop stairs, and looks out into thin air. From here, I can think myself anywhere. When I’m out there at dusk, if I let just a little haze come over my brainwaves, I can forget what I’m looking out upon. There could be Chilean mountains in the distance. The foothills of Italia. The area just west of the Mission in San Francisco, the north side of Chicago or the south side of this country. It’s all possible. And with it all, all things. With each remembrance of past places, I become aware that there are many more whose sights I haven’t set on mine yet.

I recently watched a movie wherein the opening scene, a girl says to her beloved: “I think it’s important to get away from where you’ve grown up for some of your life.”

This I believe with all of my heart. To challenge the ideas that others and even you have created about who you are. Born in Kentucky you may be a horse-racer, born in Maine you may boat. Born in someplace like NYC, you may have too much at your feet, and born in Mechanicsburg, you may have not quite enough. So go. Go out and see. Once a place is known, and seeds are sewn — you can return at your will. But you cannot learn the things that fall outside your footpath if you’re not willing to find them. They will open up new parts of you, and with them you’ll create new chapters.

When Olivia was here – peeing in public restrooms, swimming in lakes, baking cakes, catching toads in her tiny hands — she opened up a new space in herself. And she has a new place on her mind map. Kentucky.

(She did a couple other things too: fed Koi fish, rollerskated, made new friends and re-connected with old, played the mandolin, tried her hand at two-person yoga, went to the drive-in, picked blueberries, went to a fish fry. She taught amy about fairies; amy taught her about crystals. In 8 days, we saw 3 rainbows. I’d like to know what the statistical likelihood of THAT happening is. The most wonderful thing she did though — was injected joy in our lives like it was HER JOB. We miss her.)

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