Without the reader, a writer has no voice.
~ Sherri Turner Stone
When I was a little girl growing up in the small West Texas town of Cisco, my mind, my heart and my soul seemed to be everywhere but in that little town. I read the books my grandmother kept on shelves in every room of the house, and they told me there was a great big fascinating world beyond the one I knew. That world was filled with musketeers, Arabian nights, Mohican Indians, desperate lovers who committed suicide and brilliant detectives who always got the killer. But somewhere in between those pages, I found time to climb pecan trees and run through the fields with my grandfather and his Brittany Spaniels, skin my knees falling off my bike and catch tadpoles and crawfish in the standing water beside the road when it came a "gulley washer."
And nothing will ever be nicer than the memory of lying on top of the sheets on a hot summer night with the windows open wide while watching the stars and the moon up through those glorious pecan trees. Just when you thought you were going to melt from the heat, you'd hear the trees rustle outside, and then a big breeze would blow in and catch those white curtains and float them high above the bed. The last thought you'd have before drifting off to sleep was that you were in heaven. And if you were really lucky, the last sound you'd hear would be the train whistle far off in the distance, the hoot of an owl or a lone coyote howling at the moon.
When I was 14, many things happened that changed my life. My grandmother died of cancer and my mother remarried, so my two brothers and I moved away from Cisco and went to live with my mother and her new husband in Burnet, Texas. It was only 150 miles away, but it seemed a lifetime away from the world we had known. My grandfather soon remarried and things changed at the house in Cisco, but I still returned there often to visit. Even though things changed, there were still bits of furniture that had been my grandmother's and her books still remained on those shelves. When my life became more than I could bear, I found myself returning to Cisco again and again to heal. Often I would sit out in the yard late at night and stare up at the stars and the moon remembering, or lie awake in my old bedroom listening to the night sounds of my childhood. I would leave that place as good as new. I was able to do that for 20 years.
In 1996, however, my grandfather passed away. I was 34. I felt lucky to have had him for so many years, but I was absolutely devastated when I learned the house was to be sold. I would have bought it myself, but I didn't have the money or the means at the time. My beloved home was going to be gone! Where was I going to go when I needed to be healed?!
Well, I couldn't stop the sale of the house, but I did go back one last time when it was all empty to say my goodbyes. I walked through the house and the yard and cried a thousand tears, and then I drove away without looking back. I can't go back there anymore, not physically. It's funny in a way. That little girl who wanted so much to be the great traveler now
is the great traveler. I've traveled all over the United States, into Mexico, spent a summer alone in the Republic of Ireland and then went into Northern Ireland to Belfast in an attempt to understand "The Troubles." I now live in England. I've trekked all over Crete on the back of a motorcycle, driven through the wilds of Scotland and walked along the banks of Loch Ness. I've stood at the foot of Rob Roy's grave. I've camped in the Welsh mountains, swam in the Irish Sea and walked barefoot on a beach in Spain. No telling where the rest of my life will take me. I learned long ago to never say never.
Only now, yes, now, the mind, heart and soul that wanted so much to be out there in that great big fascinating world as a little girl finds itself right back in that small West Texas town more often than not. It's where I go to heal, you know, and I suspect I will continue to find my way back there until the day I die...sitting right there on the garden swing next to my grandmother at dusk, drinking a big glass of ice tea, watching the fireflies dart in and out of the honeysuckle and listening to that train whistle blow way off in the distance.