My current house is not my first home. It is the second address to live at the tip of my tongue, and the second set of directions written on the back of my hand. It came later, replacing the house that all three kids were born in, the first house my parents had together, the house that remembered my first words, my first steps, my first tantrum. As a particularly sentimental person, I was more than reluctant to let go of this history and call a new place home. Eventually, I realized that we are a family of individuals living in an eternal work in progress, and it is these two things that make our house a home.
I watched this house being built from the ground up by my dad’s own hands. I saw every ounce of work he poured into building something better for our growing family, and watched as he woke up for work at six and then drove across town at five in the evening to work on our new house, sometimes not coming back until nine. My own handprint lies in the cement foundation, a nine year old’s mark on the world. However, for all the sawdust summers, the way the nailgun rewrote the rhythm of my heart beat, it was never quite finished. There are always half started ideas and unfinished plans.
Now, six years later, I walk into my house everyday by turning the stiff doorknob a little extra hard, ignoring the light fixture in the entryway that has never had a bulb. I walk past my dad’s building plans laid out across the coffee table, my brother’s trains chugging their way across the living room floor, my mom’s shoes covered in dirt from gardening, my sister’s unassuming masterpieces gracing the dining table, my own books and dance shoes piled high on the couch. I’m alone in the living room, but I can hear my mom’s fingers flying at sixty words a minute as she works in the office, my four year old brother having a tea party with his stuffed animals, and my sister singing in her room as she works on her latest artwork. In a few hours I’ll pass my dad in the driveway as he comes home and I go to dance.
Everyone in my family has their own story and they leave little paragraphs inside the unpainted walls, the piles of belongings littering the stairs. I don’t need a history to make my house a home. I just need my family to keep writing their own history, and I need my home to store that history until we need to move it.