Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


Good morning, Kitchen!

There was no Sunday afternoon that couldn’t be filled with a dream.

I always finished my homework by Saturday. Never one to be scrambling during the last minutes of Sunday evening. No, Sunday was for dreaming. It was in those precious hours of nothing left to do, and nothing yet to begin, that we would allow ourselves the most luxurious dreams.

Lying in front of the oversized stereo in our undersized apartment, replaying the same small stack of 45s over and over, my mother and I would dream for hours. We had several prompts, but one of our favorites was “what would you do if you lived in a big house?”

“I wouldn’t have a reading nook,” she said. “What? You love to read…” “No, she said, “I would move from room to room, reading a different chapter in every space. I would let the words wander throughout every hallway.” “Oh, yes!” I said, “Me too!” “And every room would have a mirror,” she laughed. “Of course,” I said. “And I would dress for each room. And I wouldn’t leave any space unvisited.” I jumped up from the carpet. “I would say good morning to the beds and the bathroom! Good morning,kitchen! Good morning,library!” She got up now too. “And I would dance in every room,” she said as she twirled me to the point of dizzy — to the point of believing all things possible.

Knowing this, it’s probably no surprise that I once wrote that you should fall in love with your bathroom. Nor a surprise that today I tell you to do the same with your kitchen. I changed the picture on the counter, putting up my newest portrait. The counter I face at our breakfast table. The counter that holds the bread that I make. The bread that we toast and add the jam that I make from the trees in our yard. The breakfast backed by the radio songs of “jazz and soul,” and the fuel that feeds the conversations in which we save the world. How could I not fall in love with a space that provides all of this. A space that welcomes us without regard to mood or weather. Every morning this kitchen says, “Come in, you and your heart sit down.”

Life is not perfect. But one does not love a space less for having lived in it. Glasses will break. Food will burn. Crumbs will fall. Paint will chip. But I will go on loving because I was taught to enjoy “the dreaming,” as much as “the dream come true.”

I wipe the counter and take all the morning love to my office. Hello computer! What story should we tell today?

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Put me in, coach.

I played summer softball when I was a young girl — and I emphasize the word “played” here. We did keep score, but I can’t say that it really felt like we were competing. We were playing with our friends. There was something called “the ten run rule” — if your team was behind by ten runs after a certain inning, they just called the game, assuming you had no chance of winning. (A rule most certainly created by adults. We would have played forever.) And what I most appreciate about these times, times when they enforced this rule, it always came as a complete shock! I, we, never dreamed that we didn’t have a chance. We always thought we had a chance. We thought surely we should be allowed to try, to keep playing.

The confidence of youth! Had I known there was a chance it could slip away, I would have guarded it for the treasure that it was. I work on it now daily — rebuilding this confidence. Because what a joy!  To step up to the plate, without fear of the score, or the outcome!  To just play. To just live!  

I was in college when John Fogerty’s song, Centerfield, was released. It became a theme song for my mom. 

“Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”

I’m not sure everyone understood the song to the depths that she did. She had spent years rebuilding her life. Rebuilding her confidence. And this song, told her she was ready. And oh how she sang!  

The song begins, “Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today! We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.” I look out the morning window and smile. There IS new grass on the field! And I, we, have the chance to play – forever!