Kalyani Marsh

Olympia High School

2022 Scholarship Winner
First Place

Bones made of beams, the flesh of wooden boards, veins of electric wires, and a skin of paint: a house is a body. But what is a frame of sinew and bones alone? It is only a wall, a curtain, a ceiling, a room, the floor. It is a collection of inanimate objects bound together. It is a body waiting for a soul.

The soul of a home resides in the memories that tether us to our surroundings. Remembrances flicker through mere things, lighting them up with familiarity and warmth. Memories resonate through a structure as blood beats through a body. Once enough of them echo through
a house, we can perceive it as a place where experience has unfolded freely, where happiness and sorrow danced across floorboards, where people and things transformed as time passed within the clock on the white wall. When a dwelling hosts enough memories, we have imbued it with personal meaning. Then, we have given a house a soul.

In a kitchen, the past lurks behind a distinct tear in the rose-covered wallpaper. The opening is filled with the previous pattern and reveals stripes against flowers. When I was a small child I picked a patch clean on a quiet summer morning before anyone else had risen, except our kitten who watched from a faraway counter top.

Beyond the walls, memories hide behind thin grass that reaches out from the earth. Blades flutter with the times when my bare feet tread through slivers of green to reach an apple tree I had named George. These were the times when I first discovered worms in loose dirt, the times when my knees bled as tears fell and merged with rough pavement, when my mother gathered me up and carried me into our home, where wounds soon mended.

Through the hallway lies my room, whose ceiling is textured with dots and indentations. My bed has sunk with the weight of hours where I laid and created the same constellations over and over in otherwise meaningless dots: a kitten, an apple, and a rose sprouted from my imagination and onto the white ceiling. When I enter my room, the lines form again as I remember the images suspended above and am enveloped in the comfort of their familiarity.

When people build memories around their environment, an aura of comfort emanates from everything in it. After taking in the world, home is where we return to sigh out the weight of experience into a blanket whose softness we have known for years. A home is where we have left small legacies in chipped paint or the crack in the window. A home is where the sameness of the painting that hangs beside brown curtains gives rise to an unspoken comfort. A soul of memories is what gives life to every crack and crevice of an otherwise empty structure. A soul of memories is what makes a house a home.