Jodi Hills

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

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Nothing shouted.

The first time I visited New England was with my mother. I was just out of college. Up until then all of my “vacation” time had been used to have surgery. To say we both fell in love immediately would not be an exaggeration. The main street was lined with seemingly freshly painted white houses. Porched and welcoming. A street sweeper (by hand) waved us in. Washed windows revealed the contents. Clothes. Beautiful clothes for sale lived in this house. My mother looked at me and beamed. We walked the white stairs and opened the door. Was that the slight hum of angels singing? Or just my mother’s heart. 

It was all like this – this understated elegance. Lobster on paper plates. Lawns mowed. Cars washed. Nothing gilded. Nothing shouted – it wasn’t necessary, it showed. 

I visited again. Several times. I have never harbored a New England address. And though I may have never actually “there,” I have lived in it, here. 

There are so many gorgeous places around the world. I have been lucky enough to visit so many of them. And as the saying goes, “if you’re lucky enough to be here, you’re lucky enough.” 

I have, in the past, been guilty of waiting — waiting to be happy if I was in the right place. I’m learning, daily, to create those places, those feelings, that joy, that comfort, in the exact place that I am. Making the hotel breakfasts. Dressing up to go to the grocery store. Eating slowly. Seeing the day for the first time, because, aren’t we all? Today is really our vacation from yesterday. Our journey towards tomorrow. I’m going to take those photo opportunities along the way.

The electrician was here the other day. He finished his job. I don’t know his name. But I invited him inside. He vacationed for a few brief moments at our kitchen table. A cup of coffee. A plate of cookies. I smiled, hoping, for these few moments, that maybe I was his New England. He asked where I was from. And, as so many people do, asked which place I liked better, the US or France. How could I explain that I was trying to live in the best of places. That I carried a piece of it all within me. That I was a French breakfast in a New England town. A relic of Rome. Dancing to the joyful music in Spain. Dangling my feet in a summer Minnesota lake. Standing in front of my own painted “Mona Lisa.”  My heart jimbled at the thought. I could hear the angels softly sing, my mother now one of them. “I love it all,” I said. And meant it. 

I’m here. And I am home.


My precious time.

Barbie was my first (and only) friend to get Pong — the premiere “tennis like” computer game. She couldn’t wait to show me. I rode home with her on the school bus. The way she flung open the door, dropping her books, racing to her bedroom, I thought this must really be something. She turned on the small tv screen. It blinked in blue. “It takes a second,” she said. All smiles. I wanted to love it, because she loved it. After explaining the bars of light were like paddles, and the light that moved was like the ball, I enthusiastically said “Great, let’s play!” She told me that we already were. “That’s it?” I thought – I hope it wasn’t out loud, but it probably was. “Isn’t it great????” Was it? Was it even anything? “We could go outside and play tennis,” I said, hoping. “No, this is cool. Let’s stay here,” she said. The screen plunked. Boop. Boop. I was never so bored.

I was so happy when my mom picked me up. I was always happy for that, but this evening most especially. “How was it?” She asked. “Ok, I guess.” “Just Ok?” “Really kind of stupid,” I said. “So you don’t want one?” “No.” She shook her head and smiled.

The next night I stayed outside as long as I possibly could. My mom called me from the garage door three times, not angrily, because I think she knew, (she knew I knew) we were given only so many youthful suns, and they weren’t to be wasted. Our “someday” was now.

My first college roommate loved Ms. Pac-Man. She begged me every night to go watch her play in the common room. Her eyes, shiny like the quarters she held in her hand, “please, please…” she urged. I finally put my book down one night, giving in, and went to watch her move a gobbling girl across the screen. Boop. Boop. Each sound eating up my time. My precious time.

We don’t all love the same things. And maybe I took it too literally when my mom shortened what every mother said on Van Dyke Road — “Go outside,” to just “go.” Off I went. First, just in my mind. Then in books. In school. Across our country. Then off to another.

I made peach and apricot scones for the first time yesterday. I picked them off the tree outside of our open kitchen window. The wind carried the fresh scent through the house, and I carried them to the outdoor table. All the while, our Meta Quest headset that we received as a gift lay charging in the living room.

I continue to create my own world. By heart. By hand. By imagination. My youthful sun is still rising. And the wind carries the gravely voice of VanDyke road saying, joyfully urging — “Let’s go!”