The Memories Make the Home

3 years ago

I find myself searching the walls and rooms of this large, beautifully decorated space we live in. Looking for marks and memories, seeking signs of a growing family that wasn’t planted here.

There’s a trace here or there – remnants of tape on the ceiling from Gabby’s 10th  birthday party – a crack in the wall over my bedroom from the time we experienced our first Oklahoma Earthquake, and a blueberry shake stain in Grace’s carpet from the “healthy kick” I was once on.

After occupying this space for four years, there’s obvious signs that we’ve been here.

But sometimes I wonder if that’s all it is – we’re just here.

I used to get offended when the girls would tell me that they didn’t mind if we sold this place. They’d tell me they didn’t have ties to it, it was where they lived, with space and walls and their belongings, but it wasn’t home.

The truth is, this will never be “home” to my girls. And maybe not even to myself

Home is a tiny 1178 square foot house situated two hours away, on a curvy street, with a chippy red front porch, and an overgrown yard. It’s the home we weren’t supposed to be able to afford, that we scored at a time when we didn’t know where we were going in life – our anchor when we had nothing.

Their father and I were too young to be able to afford a place in such a snazzy, sought after neighborhood. The day we closed on that house, I felt as if I had struck gold – and in the quiet moments when I was alone that first night, preparing the walls to paint, I hit the floor on my knees and thanked God for what he had provided. For months after, I kept expecting a note in the mail saying that something had gone wrong and that this home really wasn’t ours. That quaint little 1950s bungalow brought us so much joy.

I continued to feel excited about that space for the six years we lived there.

I was sure that I would raise my children to adulthood and someday, retire in that home spending time with my grandchildren on the honey colored hardwood floors.

Home is a large back yard with an old dilapidated green storage building and the sounds of a busy highway. Where two little girls picked wild onions and pushed each other on their plastic John Deere tractor for hours on end. It’s the sound of your foot hitting the grate covering the hole where the furnace once was. It’s the smell of dinner cooking, kids playing, and two people working day in and day out to be able to afford life.

There’s a memory in everything. The stove was carted in when we purchased it from someone two blocks away. I still shutter when I recall how embarrassed I felt about pushing an oversized stove down the street on a dolly, but it helped me to keep two growing kids and a bottomless husband fed for years.

The corkboard and hooks in the kitchen held school recognitions, the family calendar and Barbie lunch boxes.

The living room hosted hours upon hours of video games, game nights with friends, and Alton Brown’s Good Eats marathons.

The fireplace reminds me of visits from Santa, and his boot prints in ash left behind each Christmas morning.

The front bedroom has a ceiling fan that fell out of the wall a few minutes after it was installed. It’s also the room Gabby lost her first tooth in.

The back bedroom echoes of David Letterman and making up song lyrics in the dark until the wee hours of the morning.

A small hallway connecting the two bedrooms is covered in 9 layers of paint, from the year I spent trying to get the color right.

Just off of the kitchen stands a make-shift bedroom, our earnest attempt to provide Grace her own space when we realized shortly after we moved in that we had already outgrown the square footage.

Its tallest feature is a sweet gum tree in the front yard, broken by the 2007 ice storm. The same tree Grace posed in front of for pictures the day she made the cheer squad, just below the branch where friends hid in the tree to shoot Nerf guns at us. Though it caused hours of yard work raking up the sweet gum balls each Fall, it was shade and shelter for us until it just couldn’t be anymore.

The bathroom smells of nicotine from the hours I would spend in there each evening after putting the girls to bed. I'd sit on the edge of the bathtub, plotting out my new life when the old one ended, just months before we left there.

Home is where there is a memory in every inch. Where your height is marked on the walls every year, where clutter piles up and holidays are celebrated. Sadly sometimes home is also where you’re torn apart and you fear your life will never be okay again.

Unfortunately, it’s all of those memories that encouraged my move 120 miles away.

The house we live in now, with its textured walls and high end features, is the place where we exist. It purposefully provides us security, and a place to rest, but the walls a few towns away that hold the memories of Grace and Gabby growing up will forever be home.


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