Home Away From Home

MINE – Christina Graham
Annalise Heimel

“Everyone come downstairs and sit on the couch, please. I have some big news to tell you,” my mom yelled from the small, dim-lighted kitchen. 

During the summer of 2017, my mom gathered my siblings and me into our big, sunny living room. With a smile on her face, she said, “We are buying a mountain house in Blowing Rock.” My siblings and I burst out with delight and soft, little giggles escaped our cheerful souls; however, my mother expressed a sense of nervousness as she watched us. After a few moments of naive joy, we learned of some awful, devastating news. My mother decided that she needed to sell our big, old home in Coudersport, a house that passed through generations of Heimel families. The expressions on our faces changed; now smiles faded and three miserable, furrowed faces stared eye-to-eye with my mother. 

For me, losing the Coudersport family home not only meant I lost a house but also I felt as if I lost a part of my family. In the small town of Coudersport, my big, loud family would come together to laugh. Walking through Coudersport, I saw big maple and oak trees along the long, rocky roads. Friendly, active animals skittered in the deep green, freshly-cut grass. I saw young, jolly children riding pale pink, metal bikes. My beautiful, kind godmother took care of me like a bear to its cub when we visited Coudersport. Old, friendly neighbors helped cook with my godmother while my cheerful family chatted amongst themselves out on her back porch like birds chirping on a summer day. My godmother showed everyone kindness like a nurse to her patients. Beautifully, she sang hymns in church; however, she never admitted that she sang the best. While I sat on the hard, cold counter and munched on gooey, warm homemade brownies that filled my mouth with their overwhelming chocolatey taste, strangers stopped by and chatted with my godmother. Everywhere my godmother went, she showed others kindness. She taught me to always show kindness back, even if others refuse to show me the same. In Coudersport, everyone was connected as a community and knew each other very well. This small, unknown town taught me that your blood does not always make you family. 

Late in the summer of 2017, my family and I began our terrible, long journey to the small town. My whole family and our large, fluffy dog piled into my mom’s black minivan at the crack of dawn. As we pulled out of the driveway with our limbs all cramped together, we looked like a car full of clowns ready for a big day at the circus. The long ten-hour trip consisted of many pit stops, numerous complaints, and countless times of hearing the phrase, “Are we there yet?” Throughout those painful hours, my dog breathed out his hot, smelly breath all over us like a dragon ready to conquer his enemy with his fire breath. Holding my breath did not prevent the fishy smell from entering my nasal airways. Finally, after what felt like an neverending, difficult drive, we arrived in Coudersport. As we drove across the green, metal bridge, I saw the bright, familiar faces of the citizens. We passed the colorless, boxy houses that all looked alike. Suddenly, it caught my attention. With the sun gleaming on its detailed patterns, my eyes gazed over the bright yellow, wooden house. It stood out like a black sheep amongst its herd. We arrived home. After hopping out of my black, metal car, I leaped into the grass. The damp, deep green blades of grass were a comfort to my bare feet. Fresh garden herbs filled the air with their scents. I swung on my childhood swingset, gripping the frayed, rough ropes holding me up from a painful fall. My feet glided across the sky like a plane heading towards its destination. As the plane landed, my feet did as well. They carried me over to the white, brick house next door. My body burst through the door and was greeted by a tight, warm hug. Backing away, my eyes gazed towards a smiling face. “Hello GG!” I exclaimed.

“Hey, Kiddo! How was your trip? Your Uncle Jer and I made some cookies for you and your siblings.” GG, my godmother, passionately vocalized. After a few minutes of chatting, we headed to the car to unpack our numerous belongings. GG’s soft, wrinkled hand held mine as we crossed the yard like a child crossing the street. Our family unpacked our big, heavy items; however, my brother watched the dog like a hawk watching its prey. The last time my dog played in the yard, he escaped. GG still had the same kind heart she had the last time we saw her. She used to take me to the lake in Coudersport where we would play in the cold, dark blue waters and eat flavorful, circular popsicles. The popsicles filled our mouths with bursts of cherry, blue raspberry, and lime. At the lake, we watched the young, colorful birds and the gentle, small salamanders swim like we were scientists observing our discoveries. GG loved nature and its beauty. She let me braid her long, blonde locks and paint her smooth, dainty fingernails. GG’s title of “godmother” truly suited her. She watched over me while I swung on the swings and played in the cold, clear water of the town pool. She also use to take me on fun, long train rides; however, I became ill from the ride once so we never went again. GG always made sure I was safe, like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. 

Even if my family and I were not in Coudersport, GG still remained her kind, caring self. She is a talented, independent realtor for the citizens of Coudersport. Before selling a house, sometimes GG would clean the house if she thought it was not clean enough. With her kind gesture, the house was more likely to sell and at a higher price. One time, she sold a house to a large, poor Amish family with six small, energetic children and one baby on the way. My godmother felt sympathy for them and went out of her way to give the family eight shiny, new pots and pans to help them. Often, she offered to paint strangers’ homes for free. GG enjoys long, eventful adventures and always welcomes others to join her. Because of her friendly, fun personality GG has, she makes everyone feel welcome and brings together the town of Coudersport. Here, in this small, obsecure town, residents not only come together as a community but also as a fun, large family. 

Coudersport brought my family together and created a space of love and kindness. Although my family does not visit the little, obsecure town anymore, it still remains a very important place in my life. It showed me that blood does not make you family, but that the bond and love between one another do. Because of its example, I have chosen to live life through kindness. I try my best to show others kindness because of the impact GG’s kindness has had on my family and others in the town. Coudersport shows what a caring community looks like. Small towns where people treat one another like family can influence someone to express kindness and love to others. Although we no longer visit, Coudersport will always be my home away from home.