If you are lucky, you will in your life find yourself in a place that just fits, like a glove, a place that wraps around you like a comfortable sweater and settles your soul. I surprised myself by discovering that one such place was the little village in Wales where we moved for my husband’s job.
Where Frances Mayes found many similarities of life in a Tuscan village to the one knew as a child in the South, I too saw similarities in the rural Welsh village. It was a place filled with quirky characters, where you could hardly walk through town without encountering a half-dozen acquaintances for a chat or a cheery hello – or catch up (or overhear) the latest gossip at the hair salon (of which there were many) or the coffee shops. And amongst the people, quirky and otherwise, I found good friends.
One would also overhear a frequent “Aw, bless” – which promptly brought to mind the Southern “Bless your heart!” although the meanings were quite opposite!
I grew quite used to walking into town to do the marketing, popping into the butcher shop (where if I couldn’t tie up the dog, quite often one of the butchers, popping out for a cig, would happily hold my pup’s lead), having a chat with the greengrocer, and maybe grabbing some fresh bread at the whole foods shop.
Where I was not (and still am not) much of an outdoors person, much preferring to be curled up with a book in a chair (unless you are talking a beach chair under an umbrella), in that village I wouldn’t think twice about pulling on a pair of wellies and a hearty rain coat and climbing over the fence down the road to take the dog on a walk through the fields (and the mud, and the muck and the sheep poo).
Always sheep poo.
While it didn’t happen overnight, mind you – we were as much outsiders there as we would be Yankees in the South – the quiet pace, the easy schedule (no crazy Mom taxi moments there), the walks in the fields followed by Sunday dinner at the pub, all added up to a peaceful lifestyle and one that we slipped into without even realizing. It just fit.
The fact that it was known as the “town of books” and you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a used bookstore didn’t hurt, either.
When it came time to move home, a few months sooner than expected, again, due to work, we found ourselves out of sorts. We moved back to our house in the US, rented out while we were away…but found ourselves struggling to settle back in, like a leather shoe soaked in a rainstorm that tightened in all the wrong ways and now doesn’t quite fit as iy once did.
We’ve since moved again, for work. It didn’t take long to settle into our house; no dust grows under my feet when it comes to unpacking and I find that once a few pictures are hung and knick knacks brimming with stories and memories are scattered and the boxes hauled off, it doesn’t take long for a house to feel like home for me.
But making a house feel like home is not quite finding that place where your heart just hums with contentment and everything clicks and feels….right.
I hope, like Frances Mayes recounts in her memoir “Under Magnolia”, that I will one day find again a place that makes my heart hum in recognition and sings a siren song.
This post was inspired by Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes, a memoir of her return to her roots in the South. Join From Left to Write on April 30th as we discuss Under Magnolia. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.