Kirsten Gertje

Olympia High School

2011 Scholarship Winner
Third Place

My home is unlike any other. My family started building it when I was about seven years old and we’re still working on it. Dad, the engineer, had a dream and because nothing can stop him when he puts his mind to something, he went for it. He and my mother designed it to be exactly what they wanted, and with the support, love and help of the family we all built it. It wasn’t always easy. At times it seemed like there was just too much to do, that we would never finish it. But I think that’s what makes my house special. It has kept us together through the process. We all saw what it would become and strove through the rough patches. It’s seen us through laughter and tears, the life and happiness of new puppies and the death of beautiful old dogs. It’s seen us through healings and injuries. It’s seen the hatching of chickens and turkeys and their slaughter for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s seen my vegetarianism and my dad’s hunting hobby. It’s seen the loving embraces of my family and the heated argument which were soon forgotten. It’s seen the good and the bad of all of us and knows us as well as any of our friends. It’s seen our lives.

If a stranger walked through our house they would learn so much about my family. The carpets are covered with dog hair and the kitchen is in need of a little attention. There are books in almost every room and a glimpse of my cat might be caught if you’re lucky. My father’s woodwork, painstakingly varnished and aligned; my mother’s tile, unique and beautifully designed; the random nuts and bolts from the cars, left by my brother; the sound of my sister’s trombone; the books I left on the living room table; the model airplanes my other brother left behind when he went to college; the still-in-progress garage; the five acre yard my siblings and I ventured together as children and the garden we’re planting in it. It all adds up to my family. My father’s perfectionism, my mother’s loving, easy-going attitude, and the three (sometimes four) energetic and unique young adults living under its roof define and are defined by the house we built together. And though at times it seems our differences are on the verge of pulling us apart, in the end it is always the one thing we all share that holds us together: the love that we invested in this house and each other. Mother Teresa once said, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” That’s what my house is to me.

My home is a house and a palace, a residence and a kingdom, a rest stop and a journey. Everything that cannot be planned in a blueprint is what makes my house a home. Life makes my house a home.