"How far is this from you?" Nicole asked via text message Sunday morning, along with a link.
I had been laying in bed, half awake for a good 30 minutes but this text woke me up like 2 shots of espresso. Built in 1915, a good 10 years older than mine (how fitting she stays older), it is the cutest little white farmhouse with loads of potential. So I mapped it from my new address... less than a mile. Walking distance says 17 minutes but is that a brisk walk or leisurely stroll? Probably a stroll, with my dogs, who stop to say hi to every human and who stop to pee on everything. I could get to her house in 8 minutes tops, in my bright green New Balances and a basket of cookies and wine. It's called hustle, y'all.
One of my favorite Judy Garland movies is Meet Me in St Louis. Nicole knows my childhood Judy Garland obsession, where I'd watch every movie intently on AMC during Judy Garland week and afterward I'd draw the characters on paper and cut them out, reenacting the movie. By myself, because Nicole liked to read books. I was 7 or 8. Aside from the period setting and the gorgeous dresses in the film, I was drawn to a simpler era where the townspeople knew each other and the historic homes would glow from within at dusk. If I could walk on a charming street, every evening at dusk, I would. It's always been my favorite time to turn on all of my lamps and appeal to the people like me, the ones who enjoy walking amidst happily lit up homes. It's like a small hello to the world outside. Bonus points are given if they are historic, have picket fences around the yard and quaint porch decor. Better yet is a historic home dressed for Christmas, and this is another reason why Meet Me in St. Louis is a favorite. But most significant is the family bond and the love and joy. They gather around the piano and sing. We do that. They quarrel. We do that. They have a horse and buggy. We don't do that. They love unconditionally and are there for each other. We do that. They don't move away from each other. We can do that.
Nicole isn't threatening to move far away. She's staying in the area, but ever since I found my house, I've been trying to pull others in to join me. This must be what religion is like. What I've always thought would be absolutely amazing is if my family joined me in this small town. Nicole and I joked that one day I'd be Mayor of Ball Ground and she'd be City Manager. I'd have the creative ideas where she would keep them organized and legal. This home she found in Ball Ground is one of other options in the Lawson House Queue. So I must now appeal to my brother in law, Drew.
Dear Drew Lawson,
You've never been my neighbor, but you've had my cooking and sweets. In times past I've taken meals to neighbors who are either ill or under a lot of stress. I made raspberry macarons for friends, just because. I've cooked homemade chicken noodle soup for Mom when she was sick. I juiced a whole bunch of shit for Alison in a mason jar for her headaches and I baked Alan chocolate chip cookies last week because he was tearing out rotted wood. Can you imagine what I would do for family that lived less than a mile down the street? I'd pull out jams and songs and Pollyanna my ass to your house with prisms to brighten your day. I might buy a wagon and pull Benton's Bacon down on occasion. I don't know. Maybe I'll just toss glitter in your yard so the day's new sun would hit it just right and it would send you off to work on a magical journey.
Your home in Canton now is in a slightly higher traffic zone. It's close to the street. I like that, don't you? I personally love to show off my holiday decor and give folks a glimpse inside during those dreamy dusk moments in the evening. I've tried to paint a picture for your lovely wife, one that showcases a welcoming porch in the summer months, when you're enjoying time off from teaching. A porch with a swing, some rocking chairs, a vintage table with a silver tray set up with sweet tea and sliced lemon, mason jars and striped straws, just waiting for guests to swing by. Alan builds you a small barn in your lush backyard, where you and Avery practice music. Sometimes you host your musician friends here and after they grab their sweet tea from the front porch, you show them your supply of fine Bourbon in your Bass Barn. Nicole is inside, with the windows open and her feet kicked up on an ottoman, sipping on some wine with me. Avery and Breana are catching fireflies in the front yard. Music can be heard from the barn. Everyone is happy. Saturdays we meet in the middle, we walk to town when the weather is nice and enjoy drinks, a good meal and nonstop laughs at a restaurant. We wave at the train going by and laugh it off and threaten the middle finger next time since the conductor never waves back (he doesn't. I've tried already.)
Fall comes and the cool weather creeps in like death. Slow and then all of a sudden. The town is full of pumpkins. So is my backyard and I've made it to where my family and friends need not go to Burt's Pumpkin Farm any more. Free pumpkin if you bring wine. We walk to each others bonfires. We sit on each others porches. I yell at Breana to pick up the dog poop so Avery will no longer step in it. We talk for hours and we laugh for days.
The holiday season arrives and decorations are abound. We share decorating tips and compete for most festive exterior. We force our girls to form a Christmas Caroling Club, to which Avery elects herself as President and proudly carries her violin. Breana bitches the entire time but winds up enjoying it anyway, partially because I'm good at threats and my Mom-means-business glare has had 11 good years of practice and is really looking scary these days. During winter, we pray for a good snowfall and set up a roadside hot cocoa stand when it does snow. Business sucks because generally Southern people prefer central heating, but it's fun and we like the magic of being outside with the frozen, glittering trees and the glorious silence when the only sound that exists is a clump of snow tripping from branch to branch. When it's not snowing and it's boring and cold, we meet up for random board games and it's often at your house because you have zero dog hair.
Drew, I urge you to imagine life as it could be- something simpler. Recall that Seaside, Florida vacation where the car was parked and the bicycles were used? Imagine that but in everyday life (minus the beach, smartass). Imagine a setting where it's not vacation, it's the weekend, or summer evening, but you're perplexed- is this home or a retreat? Is this real life or a dream? Your white little farmhouse in the heart of Ball Ground, Georgia, with its white picket fence around the front yard, string lights dancing among the trees in the back yard, house all aglow at dusk on a cool 70 degree evening with a family inside eating bacon for dinner. Happy. Simple. Pure.
Imagine. It's what Nicole, Judy Garland, the Oxford Comma, & I would like you to do.
Love in our possible future neighborly bond,