Freddie is drifting to sleep as I sit in the dark living room looking out over the front of my grandfather's property. As a child, I spent so much time here. Now, I'm lucky to get back once a year. This has been my first trip back since my cousin Beverly's wedding 3 years ago. In that time she's bought a house, had a baby and has another on the way. Things change and move forward even when you're not present.
The big picture window in the living room looks out over the porch to the front yard and gravel drive. Long ago, between the two giant evergreens, there was a hammock. We would wrap ourselves in it and spin until we were sick.
There was a pool where a shed stands now. My grandmother taught me to dive in that pool. My uncle tossed us through the air in that pool. My cousins and I would make whirlpools and play Marco Polo and float and splash and fight and giggle.
There was a porch swing out there, over to the right. I remember sitting there with my mom as she explained to me that my dog had been put to sleep after being hit by a car. I think that was the first time I understood the finality of death...that Smokey wouldn't be back.
On the left side of the porch is some lattice. It's still there. What's missing is the honeysuckle. The smell wafted across the porch and into the yard. That smell still takes me right to that green wooden porch, my spindly legs dangling off the side. We'd pluck the flowers from the vine and inhale the sweet aroma as the velvety white petals tickled our noses. Once the scent filled us to our toes, we'd pull the stem from the bottom and drip the sticky nectar on to our tongues. Just a small, fleeting drop, but the sugar filled our cheeks and warmed our bellies.
I can hear the distant echos of laughter as we run through corn fields, feed chickens and race horses. I can feel the vibrations of a tractor through my feet and the sting of scratches on my bare skin from the hay. I can smell the honeysuckle and stare up at millions of stars, unpolluted by city lights.
And in a moment, I am back...in a dark living room, the only sound - the steady breathing of my sleeping boy, who sometimes smells just like honeysuckle.