Home is hard to put your finger on. Not when you have it, of course, but when all of a sudden it’s gone and you don’t know where it went. When you have it, home is as natural as breathing, a comfy blanket waiting for you every time you pull into the driveway, smile at your neighbor’s yappy dog, and check the mail. The creaky screen door hinges that probably should have been replaced before you were born sound to you like welcome home. The sight of the pale yellow house with white trim is as familiar as the back of your hand. Probably more so.
But life isn’t perfect. Grandpa gets brain cancer, and leaves behind the house he built with his own hands. You should have known it was coming, but you could never bring yourself to face the what if. Your family, which you naively had thought to be a democratic union, has decided, without your consent, to pick up and move. Nothing makes sense anymore. There are no positives because your world is crumbling, and no matter how tightly you squeeze the pieces you have left it fractures deeper with every box you fill. A sad song comes on the radio and you can’t help the fat tears that roll down your cheeks as you sink to the ground, but instead of crying you take quiet, hiccupy breaths because Mom might hear you and come into your room trying to make it better and that would just be worse.
And then it’s gone. The part of you that held this feeling of home, of knowing where you are in the universe and where you belong is all of a sudden cold and empty. This unforgiving mansion you inherited with it’s ugly outside, ugly inside, and ugly memories obviously isn’t home. Home is a yellow house with white trim. But even that isn’t home, not anymore, because there are new cars in the driveway when you pass by on the way to school, and no paper snowflakes taped to the front window that no one remembered to take down. You have a house, but no home.
But maybe it can be. Not quickly, because these things take time, but with small victories. Standing in the doorway as Mom and Dad look at blueprints for the remodel with our designer. Months later, listening to my little brother eagerly tell the contractor about our plans for making this into the perfect house. Walking out of the carpet store, exhausted from discussion but happy with the samples we selected for our bathroom. Walls come down and slowly get built back up, one step closer to our vision. I start to think, maybe this could be my home, one day.
Because in the end home is a choice. Home is something you have to work for. It might not be easy, you might have to open your mind a little more than you want to, but it’s worth it every time.