When I make the turn from Highway 40 onto the narrow roads of State Road 39, before my feet hit the gravel of the driveway–I am home. The tall trees, bright green grass, blooming flowers, and red porch with its American flag. They are all so familiar, and so constant in my life of motion.
Belleville, Indiana is a town with one stoplight, two fresh fruit stands, two highway gas stations, no grocery stores, no clothing stores, and somewhere around 600 people. It’s hard to describe without being here, and it’s a tough life to enjoy for most, unless you’ve grown up to love it. And as I spend what will probably be the last long summer in this place called Home, I’ve come to recognize Belleville’s strongest influence on my life–it is a town in which Time does not reside.
Time is something I cannot escape. It’s on my mind more often than I would like to admit. I stressed about the time left to finish my thesis, I never think I have enough time in my day to do everything I set out to accomplish when I woke up, and I look at the clock all the time to know how much time I have left until my next appointment. Before I know it, it’s another minute, another hour, another day….a year. But not so here. Here, it’s as if I have stepped inside a capsule that freezes me within a moment. It’s as though every day were June 15 or July 16–any day is every day. But it’s not so much the feeling that things often take place in a similar pattern each day, but that there is a slower pace to life and a simplicity to it. There’s nothing fast paced, nothing to rush me or make me feel like I’m running out of time. Here, I have all the time I want, and all the time I need. Like Scout Finch described her town in To Kill a Mockingbird, Belleville is a tired, old town.
And although to stay like this forever would be to not have the experiences that lay beyond that stoplight, it has been a place of rest and a source of rejuvenation for me over the years. It reminds me that it’s okay to take a time out, take care of myself, and rest. Moreover, it reminds me that if I do those things–take that time out–even though time is something I cannot escape, I can not allow it to rule my life. I’ll only have until May in Ghana. What’s my 8 months of work to centuries of hardship? But if 8 months is all I have, it’s 8 months I don’t want Time to rule. I’ll take my time out now.