Home is a place described by contradictions. Love and hate, joy and sadness. I’ve had my best moments and my worst times with the people that make up my home. Home is like a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and in-betweens. It’s not just a place of sweet embraces and happy memories. It’s a culinary phenomenon made from the sweet, the salty, and the sour.

A house is made to keep out downpours and withstand the strongest of weather conditions. But a home is made up of those elements. Tears that rain down from huge clouds of sadness, huffing and puffing winds of anger, rays of light and laughter, and sweet summer breezes of nostalgia and memories.

Home is a place of cold nights snuggled up with your dog and cats, and long summer days swimming in water that could probably give you hypothermia. It’s a place of rainy days spent doing puzzles with your dad and pounding out unrecognizable songs on the drums with your mom. It’s a place of validation and tough love scattered between almost-overflowing bookshelves, embarrassing baby pictures taped to the fridge, and boxes of photos from your parents’ past, the only remnants of the crazy partiers they used to be. A place where sibling rivalries fuel your drive to be the best and where the pressure to please and to be the greatest weighs down on you, sometimes making it hard to breathe.

A house is a place where scratches and stains taint aesthetic appeal. But at home imperfections increase sentimental value. Home is a place where each chip or discoloration evokes memories. A house is embarrassed of its blemishes but a home proudly shows off its battle scars and flaunts its flaws.

A house is a place of white, bare walls and creaky staircases. While a home is a place where you can recognize your family members by the sound of their footsteps. It’s a place of vibrant colors, where your paintings from elementary school are hung on the walls and no matter how much you beg your parents to take them down, they always respond with the same bright-toned “but you’re so talented.”

Home is the only place where I don’t stuff my emotions into a box and wear a mask of bright smiles and upbeat cheerfulness. A home is a place without the weight of watching eyes and expectations of perfection because in a home each and every person puts their emotions on display without a filter. But no matter how much of an amusement ride home becomes, the good memories always amount to more than the bad. Anger or sadness may be all-consuming in the moment but in retrospect, those bad times fade into the shadows of forgetfulness while the happy memories come to light.