It’s not the architecture that brings me home from a long journey, relieved to feel the familiarity that encompasses my home. It isn’t the old, cracked pavement, nor the bed in which I conjure my most private thoughts. It isn’t the fact that it’s the final destination from every dog walk or solitary run, nor the fact that I’ve lived within these walls for twelve long years.
What makes my house my home is more than that.
It’s the invisible trails of sweat that ran through the floorboards, from all the labour exerted in the making. The splintering paint that masks the wood on the outside, that’s changed just as much as I over the years. The still-only-partially-done deck out back, even though it’s been five years.
It’s the rickety hinges from slamming doors and echoes of screaming matches between siblings and parents alike. It’s the scarred floors from broken dishes, and the broken arm on the dining room chair. It’s the mailbox that preserved my rejection letter, until I was ready to face what was inside.
It’s the blood stained pillowcase and the old mantel, that holds mementos of past pets and family members, the bookcases that contain pictures of lost memories and books that have remained in the same order for a decade. It’s the sun beams that filter through every window, just as much as the rain that rattles those same windows every stormy night.
It’s the memories that are ingrained in the very architecture of the place I call home, the distinctive cracks of life. It’s the numerous lessons I’ve learned from both siblings and parents. The time my sister taught me the true significance of a promise when I had broken her trust. The moment I truly understood the grief a mother can experience at the harsh and unforgiving words of a daughter.
It’s the feeling of comfort that greets me once I cross the threshold into what’s mine, and the anticipated bittersweet feeling of the moment I leave these walls for the last time, to make my own way in this world.
It isn’t the material possessions that draws me back to the place I live. The tangible things can be replaced with the swipe of a card at a register. It’s the things that are irreplaceable, the things you can’t change for anything.
Regardless of whether the memories and experiences pull at my heartstrings from regret or nostalgia, regardless of if they make my heart twist in pain, or my cheek bones ache from smiling, they are the parts of my life that transform my house, into my home.
The memories will keep me coming back, until I’ve reached the age at which my parents are no longer in possession of this land and the house that sits atop it. Until I have reached the age at which I will no longer remember those memories I hold dearest to my heart, I will forever cherish every instance of life this home has hosted.