This afternoon I went for a walk with my 14-year-old brother to clear my head from stresses of the current COVID19 stay-at-home order. As we returned, my brother stopped still, his eyes grazing over the house before us, his home for his entire life. He cocked his head and said, “One day when we are grown up, we’ll come back here. We’ll have moved on with our lives and, who knows, maybe we’ll have kids, but it will be a little sad because this will always be our home.”
He was right, this will always be our home. There is proof, like the hand-prints permanently pressed in the cement corner of our garage from when we built it years ago, my brothers’ hands twice as small as they are now. Or the gouges in the wall from taking our ping-pong table up and down the garage stairs every summer, or the worn out stairs from years of sprinting upstairs when it was time to go to bed.
Because a house is not a home without love. Imagine what comes to mind when you think of the word “house”. Wood and cement. Bland colored walls and shiny floors. No feeling, no love, just wood and cement. Now what do you imagine when you think of “home”? A cottage tucked away with a freshly baked pie sitting on a windowsill. Bright flowers erupt from the ground and birds swoop overhead, pausing at bird-feeders. A home is not just wood and cement. A home has love.
Though a “home” can make us think of a perfect utopia of birds and flowers, homes can hold more. Homes can experience trauma, the loss of a parent, divorce, or mental illness. A home can experience devastation. Along with the hand-prints in cement, there can be dents in the walls from angry nights of slamming doors, or deep ruts in the gravel outside from cars fleeing away into the night. My house has those. A year ago, my house of four turned into a house of three. It was heartbreaking. But even though there will forever be one less car in the driveway and one less dinner place to set, the house will still be filled with love. For the rest of my life I will look back at this house and remember nights spent awake crying or pressing my pillows to my ears trying to make the madness stop. But I will also remember the good nights. Hours spent dancing in the kitchen and late nights sitting around the fire. A house carries memories in its walls, just like we carry memories in our hearts. This house will forever be a part of me and I will forever be a part of it.
We are moving this summer. And, like my brother said, it will be sad. But we have things to look forward to. New walls to scrape, new stairs to wear out, and new memories to create. A new house to make our home.