Dec 09
jessie.daigle's picture

My Old Kentucky Home

Oddly enough, the place I feel most at home in this cataclysmic world of ours is one thousand miles from small town Bradford, Vermont. It takes sixteen hours, five states, and about six bathroom stops to get there. My other home, far away from my real home, sits in a pretty average neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky.  

    This average house in Louisville belongs to my grandmother and grandfather, and is also the home which my mom grew up in, nearly fifty years ago. Thus, we take the journey down every summer, allowing us to celebrate the Fourth of July with our extended family, something we cherish doing.

    And, after fifteen summers of doing this, we practically have it down to a science.

Dad heads to bed right when he gets home from work. He sleeps until 2:00 AM, then we get up and go. Make sure the van’s packed before we go to bed. Use the bathroom before we leave, no stops until at least 8:00. We’ll fill ‘er up at the local gas station, but nobody’s getting out except for Dad. Quick, quick, quick! Go back to sleep, Mom always says, the trip will go by faster. We all pretend to sleep, but no one actually does. Breakfast is dealt out at 4:00, and the earbuds go in. Two hours have passed, and we’ve made it to New York. Six hours from now, we’ll be in Pennsylvania. My older brother, Nick, is the only one actually asleep. My younger sister, Kelly, takes pictures of him while he’s dreaming. Mom pulls out her book, but falls asleep, mid-sentence. Dad sips his coffee, and the stench of it fills the van. I clear my throat and tell Dad I have to pee, igniting a groan throughout the van. It’s only been six hours! Hastily, Dad pulls over onto one of the many convenient stores along the New York Freeway. I stretch my legs and run to the bathroom, as fast as my cramped legs will carry me. Hurry up! Dad buys another coffee, and we’re back on our way. Nick still hasn’t woken up. He’ll be hyper when he does. Two hours later, it’s been eight hours. We’re halfway there! Mom lets out a whoop, and Nick wakes up just in time to see the ‘PENNSYLVANIA WELCOMES YOU’ sign. Kelly searches for different license plates, giving up after she’s found about thirty states. An hour later, we’re in Cleveland, Ohio; last state before Kentucky! Except, it takes five hours to get through Ohio. Nick’s off the walls in the backseat, and Jeremy, my other brother, can’t take it any longer. Time to stop for lunch. I nearly drift off while standing in line for food. Dad buys another coffee. Eat faster! And, we’re on the road again! Ohio is so boring. We pass through Columbus, and it’s not so bad. Then three more hours of dilapidated barns and farms. Are we there yet? Finally, Cincinnati. Just have to cross the Ohio River. The big blue sign reads, ‘WELCOME TO KENTUCKY’, and our van erupts in a loud cheer. Two hours left. Put the pedal to the metal, Dad! Hurry, hurry, hurry! It’s almost 5:00 PM. When are we getting dinner? Grandma’s house; we’re almost there. Have a pretzel rod, it’ll hold you over for the next hour and a half. I have to pee again. Kelly and Nick are bouncing off the walls, laughing hysterically. Dad’s still stressed out. No time for more coffee though, we’re almost there! I start recognizing highway exits and street signs. We pull off the interstate and the big Kmart comes into view. No more than five minutes and we’ll be there! Everyone is tossing off blankets and sliding on shoes. We pull into the driveway and spot Grandma and Grandpa sitting on the porch. Ah, we made it home.

The chaotic sixteen hour trip is well worth it. The thirty-two hour round trip is worth the twelve days we spend in Louisville, hanging out with my cousins and aunts and uncles. The wild family get-togethers, the kickball game, the pickup basketball, eating popsicles on the tailgate of Grandpa’s little blue truck.

I wouldn’t miss the Fourth of July in Kentucky for the world. The firework shows, staying up into the late hours of the night, seeing who can give the best performance. Catching fireflies in the porch light. Mom’s uncle who spends over five hundred dollars on our own fireworks. The red carpet of firecrackers, which lined the entire driveway. And, in the morning, the annual family water balloon fight, which always ends in welts on my uncles, who play bare-chested.

    For the 50 and a half other weeks of the year, I miss the unpredictableness and insane behavior of my Kentucky family. I miss the homemade fudge that my Grandma makes; our little slice of heaven. I miss sitting on the porch, watching the colossal thunderstorms. I miss everything about Kentucky.    Yet, what I miss most, are not the material objects. I miss the sense of being home. For me, Kentucky is the place where I can always be myself, because our family is exactly like me. It is the place where I’m always surrounded by family, practically every hour of the day, because we don’t want to miss a second without them. After all, we only see each other for 12 days out of the year.
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