Fiona Whitaker

Olympia High School

2019 Scholarship Winner
First Place

Picture this: A cement foundation poured, a frame built, and walls raised. A fresh layer of paint rolled on, and a roof delicately placed on top; the construction of a house. The creation of a home is a little bit different. Instead, home is built on a foundation of memories, framed in by a sense of security, and finished with a thick coat of the feeling of belonging. Home is a place where tears can trickle down to the ground, but also where laughter can tinkle through the air, a mirror to the melody made by the wind chimes on the porch.

A house is a place in which one resides, while a home is where a person truly lives. A place where they are happy, thriving, and where their multitude of memories leave an everlasting mark. A house is the bare bone structure- the black and white image in a child’s coloring book if you will. Once this image is uniquely filled in with vibrant colors and diverse textures, it becomes a home. Every home is a little bit different, as everyone has different memories, and that is what makes it so special.

Think back to the wooden floors. They’ve been worn down by countless steps, years on end of constant foot traffic taking their toll. They’ve been stomped on, hammered on by many pairs of soccer cleats, and have witnessed numerous childhoods of playing hall tag. Perhaps all this wear and tear gives a rustic, distressed look to the floor. However, it is also possible that the distressed look only exists on my mother’s face.

Walk in the front door, take a right and then a left up the stairs. Look up and you’ll spot a random hole adorning the ceiling. It is a memento left over from when the cats got stuck in the attic for a few days and couldn’t find their way back out. It’s been at least four years now, and nothing much has been done to change it. After all, a home is always a work in progress.

Take a moment to notice the soft blue walls boxing in a room. They might not seem like much, but underneath the coat of paint, scrawlings and scribbles from my seven year old self exist, allowed by my mom only because she knew we were going to repaint the walls anyway.

These memories that we breathe, that we exude, are truly what makes a house a home. Images of wintry nights without power, all huddled together under one giant quilt, rattle up through the ancient heating system. Memories of helping grandma prepare her legendary dinners drift in the kitchen, held afloat by steam from boiling water. Recollections of dreaming up outlandish fantasy worlds with all the neighborhood kids blow through a window cracked open, sneaking in on a springtime breeze. In the end, it makes sense that these memories exist everywhere in a home, as the foundation of a home is made from memories.