When I was six, we lived in the woods. My grandparent’s RV and our one room, two-hundred-square-foot cabin were our home. On clear nights, we would run in the field, dancing with our moon shadows. I would fall asleep in the loft of the cabin to my parents’ murmuring voices below. Some nights the wood stove would get too hot and I’d wake up with my blankets strewn across my bed onto my parents’. We were close, my family, packed tight (think: sardine can decorated by six-year-olds). In the mornings, my dad would scramble eggs for breakfast on the camp stove on the porch, and we would sit swinging from hammocks, watching swallows dart across the sky until school.
Now, when I tell people about the cabin, they laugh uncomfortably or smile sadly. I think they are confused. The words RV and two-hundred-square-feet add up to a whole lot of nothing, and that is all they see. They don’t know about the smores, or the laughing, or the cats, or the silly Sorry! games, or the tickle fights. They think of the space, and the squeeze, and the four of us, and a trailer? Really? A trailer? In those maybe two minutes when they’re listening to me as I try to explain, I don’t have nearly enough time. I don’t have time to show them that it was the people, not the place that made that space a home. That listening to each other cry from laughter far outweighs the inconsistency of the water heater or that sitting on the porch dangling socked feet watching dragonflies with them made my day, every day.
Today, my home is bigger. Not because we don’t live in the cabin anymore, but because a person’s home grows with time. The more people you love, the more people and places you have the privilege of calling home. As I have grown up, I have collected homes. My home is the boathouse at the marina downtown where I race sailboats with my friends. It is the front seat of my car screaming songs with my sister. It is late night phone calls with my middle school best friend. It is the inside of a tent dripping with morning condensation backpacking with my family. My house is my home when my people are in it. When we’re snuggled up on the couch watching a movie. When we’re dancing past each other through the kitchen cooking dinner. When we’re playing with the dogs in the backyard. Or calling to each other during the summer across the field to the garden. When the house is filled with music. That is what makes a house a home.