I’m sitting on my porch still trying to recuperate from all that was the Georgia Trust Fall Ramble. The Ramble is basically a tour of homes thrown by a city in our fine state and this season the Ramble belonged to Americus. I am writing about it after the final event was held some two weeks ago. However, my ankles, still bloated, didn’t get invited to the closing and they are under the belief we are still working hard to welcome some 500ish folks to my home and my city. Evidently this ankle bloating thing is a sign of my not so graceful aging, but I am not claiming such foolishness as my truth. I’m chalking it up to Chinese food.
About June, several folks came up to me and said they were excited I was opening my home for the Ramble to which my only response could be, “What has D. Mark Minick done?” With visions of the Christmas open house he roped me into fresh on my mind (and ankles); I went and asked, “Did you sign me up for something?” He crossed his legs showing off those fantastic shoes again and without lifting his head said, “Yes.” Upon further investigation on my part the only answers I received were, “Tracy, love it’s in October, its June right now, we will talk later.” I immediately decided that some way, somehow I have to get my keys back from this man.
Now this is what I know about open houses. First, it means literally that your house is open to some fine folks. Secondly those fine folks are mostly there to see your home, but some are there to steal your silver. I’m kidding. But those folks believe that your silver should be polished and shining and out bedecking a beautifully made up table. Secondly, it means you’re going to have to tell the story of your house over and over again. Now I love my house and its history, but when that story runs on a loop like some insidious song, even I want to do drastic things to my eardrums in hopes of not having to hear it again. And lastly, all the work you put into cleaning and presenting your house—yes this includes some very OCD type actions such as lining up your Q-tips, dusting that thing that holds your toilet paper, and lining up the tassels on the rugs and pillows—will be completely undone about 2 hours after the event. It’s just the way it goes, people don’t really live like this, I’m sorry they just don’t. People actually have laundry baskets and scales and even radios in their bathrooms; most folks will immediately bring out their pictures of ugly family members again; and in my case I had to go rounding up all my self help books which were hidden, less folks think I’m not perfect (and yes I have a self help book for that too). If anyone who has ever thrown an open house tells you their house is like that all the time with all the seriousness they can muster then simply go to your local Catholic church and get some holy water to sprinkle in that house because somebody has sold their soul. Even at Mark’s I have found a pink stripped shirt where the blues one live. This level of intense living just doesn’t happen, so embrace the mess.
Now, for what I learned this time around. When your town is chosen to host such an event it’s the entire town. I can’t begin to tell you the people involved with this event. Even the trash was picked up twice that week. The city street signs were cleaned and hung again. Neighbors not only manicured their own lawns but went next door to help out. There might have even been peacocks brought in for this event. In this case it takes a village to show off a village. But this is what I am hoping for our Ramblers (ain’t that cute, that’s what the folks who were visiting are called, “Ramblers”): I hope that they enjoyed soaking up the fine architecture of my town, I hope they noticed the sweet doors and porches we all so enjoy, I hope they got a quick tutorial on how to shoo gnats away with a simple turn of their lips and a puff of breath, I certainly hope they ate at all our fine eateries and spent their touristy money on great souvenirs. But mostly I hope they soaked up my town’s characters because we have them in abundance. While we have a President, we also have Jeannie who is Queen of Banana Pudding, we have Charles, a descendant of political royalty who dances the world’s best Shag, we have Habitat for Humanity but we also have Judy who believes every child should have a fabulous home and has made this happen for close to 20 years. We have an interior designer who was charged with restoring the childhood home of a President, but we also have Wayne who has converted the most tired of houses into palaces. We’ve got one of the newest hospitals in the state but we also have nurses, Connie, Midge, Meg, Christine and Nellie, who remember your name is on the operating schedule for tomorrow and they buy up the trash magazines, surgically approved lip gloss, make sure you have the cutting edge in hospital fashion to wear and insure you get sung into your anesthesia on your big day. Down the road a bit we have well known award winning singers, but on Sunday morning you’ll hear David, Paul, Harold and Jimmy singing God’s word into your heart. We’ve had some beauty queens, but we also have Jenny,Sam and Joey in their shops cutting and dying hair to make sure every woman is a beauty. We have an internationally known artist, but we also have Javin who has found his spot locally, using art as his therapy. We have been photographed the world over, but there is Bobby and Chris who can make you see life anew through their lens and eyes. We have an Olympian swimmer who owns medals for her efforts, but we also have Brinson and Sam who swim in the same pool that Olympian did with the greatest of grace for the praises of the locals. We have not only one, but two NFL coaches, but we also have Pyne, Morgan and Tanner who move the ball down the field on any given fall scented Friday night under the lights of Southland Academy while many a daddy is grilling hamburgers for fans . It’s the people who are the real architecture of this town, and if ever you get the chance to come sit on a Lee Street porch amongst them, please take total advantage. Life here is sweet, having someone to celebrate the end of the day with is sweeter, having folks who can spend hours catching up from yesterday with their comedic tales, good recipes and minor miracles, well, if you ever get to tour that place, go ahead and call Cindy or Charles and buy yourself a little porch of your own. We will show up there sooner or later to welcome you home, this time with a casserole and petite ankles.