MayBelle Inches Ever Closer Toward Home

Back in 2009, when MayBelle was on a retreat in New England, she wrote this:

“I am not at home. I am far away from everything, and everyone, that I have worked so hard to mold into a representation of what home means.  In my youth, home was a ranch-style house painted blue-gray in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a mother and a father and two older sisters and a dog named Sloopy. It was jumping on the Robinsons’ trampoline, walking down to Shellie’s house, and swinging in the hammock in the backyard. Being scared of boys, learning to play the piano, and earning badges in Girl Scouts. Today home is a two-story number in Nashville, Tennessee, with a husband—the presence of whom still shocks me after seven years—a stepdaughter, and a dog named Quay. It is overstuffed bookshelves and grocery shopping and trying to be successful at self-employment. In between, home was an unremembered street name in Oxford, Mississippi; Glebe Road in Arlington, Virginia, and Deane Hill Drive in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was graduate school and career and loneliness. Now, though, it is more than stucco chimneys and supper at six. It is where I draw the deepest, most satisfying breaths of my life. The kind of inhalations that can make you woozy with gratitude, and relief, and wonder. After so many years of not wanting to ‘settle down,’ it is, in the end, the only place I really want to be, surrounded by all that mundane glory. I am not quite as at home with my calling, however, although I feel I am tantalizingly close. It is, I suspect, a destination not to be reached as an endpoint but instead a beginning and returning, over and over again until some satisfaction and fulfillment are encountered. Like pornography, or finding your soulmate: you’ll just know. It is harder to describe than the physical structure of any house. It is grief and longing and joy. A bit of pride, maybe too much at times. Spirituality and semi-colons; silence and word counts. Story and regret. ‘Both and’ instead of ‘either or.’ It is syllables on paper and whispers in the dark. I trust that soon it will feel as familiar as the front door that sticks when it rains, the grandfather’s clock from my father’s office chiming the hours, the sound of the dog’s snoring through the air vent in my studio. Any day now, my vocation will feel like home, too.”

MayBelle is happy to report that on this particular day in March 2021, she does feel more and more at home with how she makes her way in the world and what she tries to offer back to her fellow pilgrims. She understands now, more fully than ever, what Frederick Buechner said about vocation: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Now MayBelle’s not meaning to say she’s meeting some great need in the world by helping people tell their stories. Just that she’s trying, and she’s content. She is, for one of the first times in her life, able to say “it is enough” and mean it.

12 responses to “MayBelle Inches Ever Closer Toward Home”

  1. Welcome home. I came home to my visual art thanks to the pandemic. And she’s finally sidled up to her twin sister, my writer. Working on a book this year about how the pandemic brought it and lot else together. I don’t know about you, and I’m not making assumptions, but turning 60 is good.

    1. Doesn’t it feel good to be home? MayBelle is “this close” to feeling it through and through. Congrats to you for finding your way.

    1. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. last line 🙂 brought on the deep breath of living

  3. This is wonderful- I feel the same way. I always feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be in a way I never have before. Cheers to the late bloomers!

  4. Small world. I grew up in Knoxville. Not far from Deane Hill Drive. My wedding reception was held at Deane Hill Country Club. Love your stories.



    1. Loved my time in Knoxville. Let’s compare notes about it one day. And, as always, thank you.

  5. Sharon Machrone Avatar
    Sharon Machrone

    At Passover, this is a prayer response. It means “ It would be enough.” Clearly Maybelle understands the concept of dyenu.
    Yet again, Maybelle’s words seep into me and curl up in my heart, comforting as a kitten.

    1. MayBelle and I love this so much, thank you.