We have been stateside for almost a whole year! Leaving Cayman last February was tough, momentous but tough. For Clif to be halfway through his medical school gauntlet was something worth celebrating and I was proud, relieved, and excited. But gearing up for another international move brought back a swell of memories from the last time I packed up our family, my anxieties, and my doubts and headed south…. and into the most beautiful, magical two years of my life.
I loved everything about the island. I loved that everything is constantly in bloom, I loved cutting my own coconuts, drinking coconut water and making fresh coconut milk. I loved a year-round suntan, roundabouts, digging huge holes in the sand, and Almond Joy’s at the Westin bar. I loved a calm day at the beach when the water is clear and level with the shore, and I loved watching Nora Ruth dive 15 feet to touch the smokestack of a shipwreck. I loved the constant sea breeze, going to bed and waking up to the sound of chickens, and picking and eating fresh bananas. I loved leaving the beach at sunset, hosing off in the front yard, and calling a dip in the pool a “bath”. Most of all, I loved the friends we made.
In February, we landed in Noxubee County, Mississippi at a place called Hogeye Farm. Hogeye is about 500 acres of woodland and a farm house that’s been there for the better part of a century. Hogeye is a place where I spent weekends and summers as a child. It is where I discovered a love for horses and riding and where I learned how to drive a car. Clif and I had our first date at Hogeye, riding horses, and it is also where we hosted our wedding reception after we were married at the tiny Methodist Church 10 miles down the road. Hogeye is where I hugged my little brother goodbye for the very last time. Those are just a few of many memories from my lifetime; now, consider that my children are the fifth generation to experience Hogeye.
When I was a kid, we usually called it “the Farm”, but the name Hogeye has always held my curiosity. I assumed that its meaning was derived from the phrase, “in a pig’s eye” and that Hogeye was meant to signify a place that was improbably perfect. Or maybe my great-grandfather was being ironic and Hogeye was an improbable farm prospect. At some point I remember hearing that there was a small community nearby called Hogeye and that was the source. One day last spring I was perusing my grandfather’s shelves when I found a book called Looking for Hogeye; I couldn’t resist.
After a lifetime worth of urbanity, journalism, and travel, the writer begins a new, very different life in rural, mountainous Hogeye, Arkansas, much closer to his family roots. The book is a collection of anecdotes and reflections on the scrappy rural life and the special breed of southerner who leads it. The author is both observer and participant, always a bit of an outsider but nonetheless on a very real, personal journey to comply by the rules of this harsh environment and thus, to belong.
We’ve been blessed to have lived in many different places and to have always found a way to belong, something about each place to cherish and remember. We have a ways yet to go in this journey and yet our geographical challenge does not entail anxiety about the next move. Rather, it’s the tug of two hearts that belong to many different places, or possibly to the journey itself.
We left Hogeye in September. The kids and I drove to Orlando to catch up with Clif, who was already in the midst of his internal medicine rotation. We weren’t sure whether or not Clif would be doing all of his rotations in Orlando and currently, we only have his schedule up through May. We decided that the most affordable way for us to manage his bouncing around from rotation to rotation was to buy an RV. We have been living in a 36′ RV since September, moving once in November from Apopka, FL to Kissimmee, FL. We will most likely move two more times before May, but we will remain in the Orlando area.
Several years ago, while renovating apartments in MS, Clif and I found ourselves in IKEA on a regular basis. My favorite part of that monolithic store is the showcase of IKEAness arranged more tastefully than your own home, and in a very small number of square footage. These showcases are labeled “Living in Xsqft” and “X” is a remarkably small number. Ironically, we now live in approximately 350 sqft! And, I should add, we love it. Its not without its challenges- e.g how to pay homage to the cheesecake with an oven that’s a good 2 inches shorter than a spring form pan or how to shower three kids with 4 minutes worth of hot water- but we are adapting. Honestly, we are all very comfortable in our new home. Home, or Hogeye, for me is the place where we can all be together.