I passed another year, another birthday. I can remember looking at Trav last year and him saying, “28 is going to be your year, Whit.” 27 was a rough one…for many reasons that I don’t need to go through. I turned 28 and I was unemployed, no place of my own, no direction, completely down on my luck, crying daily, and all around pretty miserable to be around. 28 wasn’t easy, but it was a turning point…I got a job, a place of my own, a bit more direction, started making my own luck, and the crying…well I just had to look at the cause, myself…that in turn, hopefully, wiped out me being pretty miserable to be around. 28 was a slow process year. But I look at one July to the next…I learned a lot, more than that, I figured out what was important. So for you dear friends, here is what you gave me.
I have some of the best friends a gal could ask for. They say that it is not the quantity, but the quality of friends in your life. I am blessed with both. I was overwhelmed with sweet messages of love and well wishes, some from the tried and true friends, thank you Jen, Laura, Jenni, Cousin, and Mom. Some from new friends, who came together for lunch, gelato, margaritas, dinner, and girl time. My cup ran over…and a place became a home because of your love, laughter, and support.
I have been obsessed with the idea of home since I can remember. Never more so than when I lived in Texas…I remember when I decided on my birthday years ago that I was coming home, back to Louisiana…little did I know, that was not the end of my quest, but first…a little reblog.
“I remember the first time I really defined home as a place…It was Hurricane Andrew and I think I wanted to pack up everything in our house to take it with us. My mom assured me that these were just material things…she assured me that what mattered is we were safe. It is what mattered, but I still saw that house as home. I need to see an oak tree. I need to drive over water on a regular basis. I need two lane highways through pine country. I need drive through daiquiri places. I need parishes. Most of all I need late nights in lawn chairs with empty beer cartons and boxed wine as side tables while we decide which one of us will become the next democrat president…2032, watch out! I need home.
I have this dream on a regular basis. I am headed east on I-10 and I go around this curve. My dog is sitting my lap and we fly off the edge. As the car flips in the air, I stay where I am, holding on to my dog, telling her, “Shhhh little one, its all part of the journey.” I was driving home from Houston one day and I was coming through Lake Charles, Louisiana. I came across the lake. I am cruising at about 75 and I see a sign and it tells me to slow down. I do and look to my left and then the right. As I see the businesses of the interstate, it hit me, “This is the curve in the dream.” I was never meant to drive back and forth from Texas to Louisiana, waiting to cross mile marker 112 so I can put on the Marc Broussard and sing at the top of my lungs, “Mama, baby girl’s coming home!”
I was born in Shreveport. My mom is from Jonesboro. My dad was from Minden. My mom is a teacher. My dad was a journalist. My mom once made the comment, “I don’t know how two kids that were never raised by their dad could be so much like them.” I will never be “Daddy’s little girl” but I will always be my mother’s daughter. With that said, I want to teach design, I want to define design, but because it is genetic, I want to tell my story. I want to write my story, my story of a grace that can only be achieved by falling flat on your face and relishing in serendipitous drama. What I am trying to say is though she may not see it, I am the genetic mix. I am genetically North Louisiana pines, but I miss the South Louisiana oaks. I miss the piece of me that was defined in the oaks, I take the half that was defined by being their daughter with me everyday, but my story needs a setting. My story needs home.
My story can only be told by going home. Home lies on the concrete river I like to call I-10. Home lies at the intersection of Highway 190 and hope. Home lies in a place where I breathe deep and smell dank and feel the heat and humidity rise of the Mississippi. Home lays in a place where my story began and where I will begin once again. Home lies in the piece of mind somewhere along two lane highways, in a town that is known for its speed traps and catfish, in Masperos or Bonnie and Clyde’s(the gas station or the flea market). Home is somewhere past mile marker 112. I am coming home.”
I found home about 8 miles from mile marker 112. Had you asked me 6 months ago, I would have told you that I chose Lafayette, Louisiana for all the wrong reasons. I followed my heart. When my heart turned out to be wrong, I was convinced it was not here. On July 14, 2011 I realized that was not the case. This town chose me. It lies at the intersection of Highway 190 and Hope. I may not feel the humidity rise of the Mississippi, but it rises off a basin, off the Vermilion, and I am quite certain I can feel it off the gulf. Home lies in a place where I started writing a story, only for it to be merely a chapter. It lies in a place that brought me back to life…that flipped the light bulb on. It lies in a place where I fell so hard into, only for it to teach me how to stand again. A place defined by people who laugh with me, who create with me, who have an undying spirit for life, a place that had it not chosen me…I would have chosen again. It lies in a place where friends that barely knew me came together and celebrated the 14 days of Whitney as if it was quite normal. That is something that drives inspiration in me. That is something worth opening your heart to. This is a place where my heart has finally found a place to stay still. My heart lies 8 miles past mile marker 112.
Thank you to all my friends who made the journey worth it. You are the epitome of paper rainbows.
lifetimes of paper rainbows…W