Sunday, October 3, 2010

Moving Back to Jersey

Pearl brought me over a chocolate cream pie the other day. Pearl’s pies are completely homemade, including the crust she rolls out with, I imagine, a rolling pin. You see them on TV, the rolling pins—animals clonk each other on the heads with them in cartoons and women in aprons on black-and-white sitcoms wave them. You will also see them in antique shops. For a while there, rolling pins were all the rage, especially the ones with the colored handles—Depression-green or black like my own, or red. There were also marble rolling pins and glass rolling pins which, as you can imagine, were hard to find, glass being very breakable. Especially if you’re going to clonk someone on the head.

But I know Pearl’s got one that she actually uses to make that homemade pie crust of hers. Unless I’m getting it mixed up and the rolling pin is for making bread. I don’t know because a homemade pie in my house growing up meant my mother put a Mrs. Smith’s in the oven. Normally we’d go to the bakery. There was one on every corner. Normandy. Catanio’s. Westside Italian Bakery. And even though there were no pies better than one from the bakery, on special occasions, we got the Mrs. Smith’s because you had to turn the oven on.

I, myself, thought I was making homemade pies until I got down here and started getting Pearl’s. I actually mix things up to put into the pie crust. A can of pumpkin. Or cherries. When I got brave, I cut up apples or even stirred pecans into a mixture of melted butter, corn syrup and sugar. Now tell me that’s not homemade. But my crusts came out of a plastic package I picked up in the freezer case. And my rolling pins with the green handle and the black handle stayed on top of the kitchen cabinet strategically displayed in a wire egg basket as if I actually used these things and they weren’t just decoration.

Kurt always rates Pearl’s pies. “Good.” “Yummy.” “She outdid herself.” He said this one was exceptional. When I called her up to thank her, because you’re supposed to say thank you again after you actually eat it, not just when you get it, I told her she outdid herself. But I was suspicious.

“You’re trying to get us to stay, aren’t you?” I asked.

“You’re onto me Debi,” she laughed.

Then she said something that, perhaps if I would have known sooner, I might not have decided to go back. She said, “I thought that you and Kurt were going to stay forever and you’d take care of me and Eldon in our old age.” Like her heart was broken. I had no idea they liked us that much.

I didn’t want to tell her I was thinking the same thing. I’m motherless now. But even before that, we’re down here all alone, with no family, and Pearl and Eldon have no kids. I always had the idea of adopting them. Pearl and Eldon. Not kids. Though I wouldn’t be against adopting a child. Actually, I often think about taking in a foster child. But that’s another story. Pearl and Eldon—we have a lot in common. Eldon’s a horseman. Pearl’s a clean freak just like me and worries about everything just like I do. And then there’s those pies…

But the homesickness already set in like pitting on a brass fixture or mold on the underside of a stirrup leather. There is no stopping it. Now that I’ve made the decision, I’m like a dog who gets loose at the airport and trots all the way home, determined, obsessed, a thousand miles back to his old backyard where there’s a bone buried next to the porch and other dogs who jump up and down and practically break their necks on the ends of their leashes when they see him.

So I’m going home. That’s right. We’re selling the farm. It’s been 7 years since we left New Jersey and Kurt says we’re done playing around. We tried it, we had fun, we learned a few things (though I still can’t make a pie crust) but when I lost my mother, I really started thinking about things. What if my father gets sick? Maybe even more importantly, do I want to lose sharing whatever years he has left too? And maybe I want to get close to my sister. Maybe all of a sudden I think she’s pretty cool.

And what about Jamie? That was nagging at me anyway. What happens when she gets married? How will I go dress shopping with her? What about when she has a baby? Who will babysit? How can I get close to this kid like my mother was close to Jamie when she was little and my nana was close to me? I have memories of things just as important as knowing my nana loved me, memories of sitting with her on the front porch in the rocking chairs drinking cans of Shop-Rite soda—cream, root beer, grape, orange—on a hot summer day; and at the end of winter, standing on her tip-toes looking out the kitchen window over the sink and exclaiming to my grandfather, “Harry! Look! My crocuses are coming up!” I remember watching her dance in her hula skirt while Pop-Pop played the banjo and taking my hand, “Com’on Debi!”; trying to teach me how to crochet; studying her dream book to find out what numbers she should play and showing me her system—basically, take a guess. All of that is just as important as knowing someone loves you. It is feeling it. It is living it. You can’t have that unless you are sitting in the rocking chairs together.

Not only did I start riding shopping carts after my mother died, but I learned I didn’t really appreciate the people in my life like I should have. It is stunningly gorgeous here. I always say it’s so pretty it looks fake. But I can’t enjoy it if I’m mooning over my family. If only I could have my mother again, I would live in a roach-infested tenement with views of the brick building next door and a naked light bulb in a chicken-wire cage.

It doesn’t have to come to that. We’re going to have a farm again. But I want to go home.


Jeff said...

Ohhhhhhh...... I sort of knew this was coming, but I'm really sorry that the economy forced your hands. I wish all of you all the best. Maybe someday you'll have another place in the country. You really should look at the pie crust recipe that I posted some time ago - it is so drop-dead easy that anyone can make it. But yes, it does require a rolling pin!! Are you going to change the name of your blog, now?

Rural Rambler said...

Debi I make homemade pies exactly, and I mean exactly like you!

I have read this wonderfully written post three times and will read it a few times more. I am sure. I fell in love with your from the deep down in your heart statement- "All of that is just as important as knowing someone loves you. It is feeling it. It is living it. You can’t have that unless you are sitting in the rocking chairs together." You have me convinced, I believe you are doing what you need and want to do. And I understand about Eldon and Pearl. We have a 73 year old neighbor, we bought her old house when her husband passed on and she built a new one right close to us and I love her. I have been motherless lots longer than you Deb and I shut my eyes sometimes and pretend. She isn't my Mom, nope, but it doesn't hurt to trick myself once and awhile and take care of her like she is my Mom.

You will be on my mind so much Debi. Actually you been on my mind since your mother died. Lots like my situation in 1987. I want everything to go smooth for you and I want you to get back where you feel you need to be as soon as possible. Your gonna be on my mind and in my heart. I know you will be busy but I hope you keep us updated. Oh and I have no doubt you are going to have a farm again. And my Mom has been gone 23 years and everyday I want her back again. It never goes away but it does get easier and my mind and heart hug my memories of her.

Praying for a speedy return to home for you and your family Debi :)

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

Going back home. Ahhhh. I completely understand where you are coming from. As everyone knows (ad naseum from me!), I've been stuck in PA for years now and dream everyday of going home to Virginia. Being with family is so important and no matter where you are, family is first. Let us know how the move goes as much as you can with all the tasks you have ahead of you!

CountryDew said...

I wish you much luck, love and courage on your new journey. Wounds can heal but sometimes take a long time and great change. I am glad I was able to meet you once in person and have been delighted to know you through your words on your blog. I hope you'll keep writing. Best wishes to you.

cynda said...

I don't want you to go but I don't blame you hon. Nothing is more important than family. Don't forget you always have family here now too. You come visit and stay with us anytime.

Grey Horse Matters said...

If moving back is what you want then there is no way to stop the train to Jersey. The main thing is to be happy and be with family. Nothing matters more than family. I hope you get to own a farm again and keep your horses. Good luck to you and your family with the move back, I'm sure it will be a happy time for all of you.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

We're going to miss you here in Virginia, but I can understand your need to go home. I hope all goes well with the move. Please keep in touch.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Aw, you guys are all so nice! I'm really touched and full of love!

Well, it might take a while. Houses aren't selling and we're going to have to find a particular buyer--one who wants a horse farm that's all set up--a serious horseperson--that doesn't mind one bathroom and small bedrooms. And we don't HAVE to go. Business is good. In fact, business started booming once we got rid of the "bad luck trailer." (THAT'S a story I have to put on the blog.) So I'm in no rush and it might take some time. Even so, I often feel anxious about it and I'm itching to get back to my family. And sometimes I think, how can I leave here? So I remind myself to enjoy it while I'm here. I actually just accepted the job of secretary at our local saddle club. I might be here a while.

Why can't I live in both places?! I always thought there should be two of me, lol.

When I do go, don't worry, I'm getting another farm right away. I would NEVER part with my horses. Believe it or not, Jersey is not all city! We researched before we made this decision and we learned we can afford another farm the same size as this one. Granted, it's going to need work. But we'll get one and we'll fix it and it'll be great when we're done.

So the blog will stay the same Jeff. And I'll keep writing like always. Some things never change.

Beth said...

All the best to you, Debi. I'm glad to hear you're keeping the blog---I'd miss your writing, for sure. I do understand, though. The place where we were born so often does pull at our hearts, especially when we still have loved ones there. I do pray that it all works out for you and your family and that you are able to find a farm in Jersey where you all feel at home and at rest.

Becky Mushko said...

We hate to see y'all go.

Jeff said...

I'm glad to know that you will still write, Debi. And I'm glad to know that you will have a small farm in NJ. I did know that NJ is not all city - the barrens area in the southern part is supposed to be quite wild and very pretty, I've read. It's also nice to know that this isn't an emergency move - that you are able to pay the bills. Now, about that pie ....

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Oh yes, I'm addicted to writing as much as I am to horses. I'm very lucky to have two passions.

Yeah, the Pine Barrens are beautiful. There are some areas that I really like that are both beachy and farmy--reminds me of Misty of Chincoteague. And north Jersey is also beautiful and rural but I'm staying away from there because it's mountainous--rocky and colder--harder for horse stuff.

Becky, it's probably going to take a while.

Sweetflutterbys3 said...


I am glad to hear that you would be buying a farm in Jersey and taking your horses with you. Call me silly, but that's one of the first things that crossed my mind when you said you were moving...what about the horses? As I said, you are one with it gal!

I did not know that Jersey had farms available. I've never been there so I assumed it was mostly city. I have heard that it has a certain beauty that suprises outsiders.

Living in two places at once, wouldn't that be great?!

Gilly said...

You are doing the right thing. Family matters so much more as we grow older (however slowly we grow older, we do!)

So Good Luck to you both, and I hope you can find the absolutely right place where you can stay forever!

Chris said...

My sister lives near Princeton. I've visited her there for years, beautiful country! Moving to be near family is I think is one of the best reasons to relocate. Best of luck with your search. Please do tell us the bad luck trailer story. What of Lowdown, is that working out? I learned to make good pie crust in my 50's, finally. It can be done. :)

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Chris, my daughters were born in Princeton in a birthing center called Familyborn. I bet your sister knows of it.

I keep trying to write the bad luck trailer story but it is so long, I start thinking, "This is too boring!" I'll keep trying.

Christina said...

This was so very close to my heart. I have never had a place that was home to me specifically. We were gypsies. My dad was military and then state department, then a contract employee. We moved every 2 years. I have been in Ok 20 years now and still dont care for it. The people are great but I just never had a "feeling" for Ok BUT my mom and brother and my nephew are here and so its home. One day when they are gone I will pack up and go search for a new "home". My mind spins with possiblities.