Last week, I offered a look inside of How It All Started for me as a writer. I wanted to give you a few writing samples that helped me obtain my first freelance writing assignment for Rochester Women Magazine.
This piece was written after a long, unhappy road in Corporate America. I was about to leave for South Korea to teach English hoping I would find what I was looking for. I spent a few weeks at home with my family prior to leaving the country. I wrote this one for my dad. Popps if you’re reading this, I love you. (note: I kept my last name under the name it was when I wrote this piece)
The Place I Call Home
By Nicole L. Heidbreder
It was mid-May of my 30th year, and I was still searching. My bare feet skimmed across the wooden planks with my father following one step behind me. I felt the dried pollen and twigs snap under my feet and wondered if my dad felt the same prickly feeling beneath his bare feet. We crept across the deck on the back of my parent’s house, the deck that had been feverishly nailed together, plank by plank, by my industrious father. We stood together on the left side of the deck peering over its sturdy wooden rails.
The night was cool, but the air felt like a heavy woolen blanket resting on my shoulders. A soft breeze swept the sweet and refreshing scent of lilac up from the back yard. The moon hung low in the sky sending a mysterious glow into the night. I heard the double click of the yellow Lumilight flashlight. Light catapulted into the darkness.
The flashlight beam was as bright as an old lighthouse guiding ships into the harbor. It lurked around the perimeter of the yard and froze on a pair of peculiar, neon orange beads floating in the night. In a low hoarse whisper, my dad asked me if I could see the raccoon at the edge of woods. His voice reminded me of the narrator on the hunting shows he watched on TV. The stalker who sat for hours without making a sound, waiting for his prey to come into the cross hairs of his scope, silent, just long enough to surprise the innocent victim. Then, in one piercing blast, the animal crumpled to the ground and expelled one last breath. I could almost feel the tension of a shotgun blast until I realized I was still standing next to my dad watching these particular critters who were now members of our family. These small furry creatures were unafraid. They knew they weren’t in danger.
In the illuminated path of the bright Lumilight beam, I saw a momma coon hovering over a piece of bread. She nibbled with her long slender nose and ripped the crust of the wheat bread away like a small, persnickety child unwilling to eat the entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She nibbled at the bread uninterested in the Hollywood spotlight that made her the star of our backyard.
My dad shifted the beam. He scanned the edge of the woods that framed the yard and I watched the floodlight illuminate the lush foliage and reveal two more beady eyes. A few feet to the right, two pairs of eyes floated just above the ground; another momma coon and two babies sat feasting on our leftover dinner. I realized how blind I had been, searching for a place to call home. What I thought I wanted was no longer what I needed.
I had been away, tackling life on my own for almost eight years, and although this was still my home, and would always be my home, in a sense, it really wasn’t my home at all anymore. I had been living in several different cities, trying to settle into a peaceful environment that made me feel as safe as this place. Now, I was standing in that haven alongside my father with my family inside. They were supporting me in yet another bold move into the unknown. I realized I was seeking to find this very place, but still looking in the wrong direction. I was about to make a decision that I knew was the wrong one, but I didn’t know what else to do.
The double-click of the flashlight brought me back to the present time. I was beneath the night sky and the distant glow from the moon. The coons rested peacefully somewhere in the darkness as my father and I crept across the deck and back into the warmth of the home he had provided for my family, and for me. I knew I would continue to search, a relentless search, for a place I could call home.
And now, for my daily Haiku…
I took this picture this past weekend on my hike to Chimney Rock.
A glimpse of Chimney Rock in Whitewater State Park.
Day 3: Haiku Challenge
guarded from sun, rain, snow, but
no place to call home.
Have you ever forced yourself to make a bad decision in your life because you didn’t know what to do next?