The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Sunday, March 21, 2010


“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you”

I went to Paragould for the weekend. It had been long overdue; and was just the boost I needed and the breath of fresh air my lungs so longed for.

On Saturday afternoon, I went with Bliss and her husband to go pick wildflowers from a nearby field. Bliss was wanting to get some to put in a vase; and Nick and I were her helpers. Oh, and Charlie--their first child--a black and white shitzu, who was more interested in rolling around in the flowers than picking them, came along on the adventure.

Wildflowers have always amazed me.

Here's an unattended field; full of weeds and brush; and right in the middle of it all, these beautiful flowers have sprouted. Blues, yellows, purples; they are like a rainbow on a rainy day; a blessed reminder that God's hand is in all things.

Reaching down to pick a few yellow flowers, I ignored the brush around them; I was on a mission, and I was going to gather some wildflowers for my friend. I soon became perfectly aware of the brush when thorns began to attach themselves to my arms and legs. I took a step back, only to realize that thorns were covering the wildflowers in a protective shell.

'That's strange,' I thought. 'Here is something so amazing, so perfect, and these thorns are becoming an obstacle in my way.'

I have the curse/blessing of always making connections in my head; and comparing events around me to my own life. These wildflowers and the thorns that encompassed them reminded me of what I am going through right now.

When I started on this journey of finding who I am, I was a wildflower. I was a blank canvas; I was free; I was a natural beauty untainted by harsh conditions. There were no thorns around my heart; I lived life to be admired and loved; and I trusted all who approached me.

Growing up was closely followed by heartache; and reality began to overshadow my childhood dreams of how my life would be. Each hurtful word became a tangly vine; and each heartbreak added a thorn to its branches. Before I knew it, I was a guarded beauty; perhaps no one could come close enough to see beneath the sharp encasement.

It's only after I return home that I am reminded of my former self. These are the people that knew me before the thorns; they know nothing of the brush that has hidden my heart, and they approach me without hesitation. They take me into their arms; they share with me fond memories of my wildflower days; they remind me that I can be beautiful again.

Part of me wants to stay in the shadow of the thorns; to ward off their fondness of me. After all, if they get too close, they might get poked. They don't know all that has happened after my departure; they don't know that I am not as carefree as the girl that walked their buildings and waved at them in the supermarket.

It is then that I look through the bitterness and ponder this: What if, instead of being hindered by the thorns, my friends and family at home actually are the thorns?

How could this be so, you ask.

They are the protectors of my heart; they see a beautiful girl in the midst of an untamed field, and they want to guard my wildflower spirit. No matter what outside forces may weigh in, I can always count on them to keep me safe. That's what this weekend was for me; a safe haven; a time when thorns went on active duty to save my dwindling soul.

The hugs I received and the stories that were relived slowly began to restore my spirits; I was reminded of the Ashton I used to be and am now determined to get her back.

The next time I look at thorns, I won't think of them in the same way; though I don't necessarily want to run through them, I will see them as more than a nuisance. They are there to draw attention to something great; to protect it from getting torn down from forces beyond its control.

In the same way, my Paragould family is that for me. They are a lighthouse that guides me on my way back home. I used to think that 730 West Court Street was my home and that it was stripped from me for good. I have found, however, that home is the light in me that I thought I had lost. It isn't a landmark. It isn't my rundown elementary school. If it was those things, I really would be homeless.

It is rather a stirring to get back to your roots; to where you were before hardships weathered your heart. Only then, when happiness and a drive for betterment is sown, can someone truly grow and thrive in their surroundings.

And I want to thrive. Oh, how I want to thrive.


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