I woke up to the sound of my cousins’ sticky little feet slapping on the hardwood floor. I was sure they were splashing in apple juice puddles. Honey dripped in the pantry and toothpaste sprawled in the bathroom. Despite the imperfect, my aunt shared notable words: “You’ll miss the mess.” My grandpa dubbed her dominion “The House of Sticky,” and after memorable stays at my cousins’ craftsmen castle, it didn’t take me long to realize a house is spotless—a home, sticky.
At my own home, things aren’t any tidier, even though my brother, sister, and I are grown to adulthood. If the kitchen were always spotless and the living room out of a magazine, the Zepeda manor wouldn’t be a home. The “sticky,” or imperfect, elements continue to disrupt morning routines and laundry days. The manor’s carriage, a 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan, smells of Washington wetness. Actually, the honey hasn’t stopped dripping in the pantry. After a while, however, we grow affectionate toward these scenes. The “sticky” denotes the past: the son’s backyard sand box, the daughter’s baking experiments, and my own strawberry obsession. Our sandy feet colored the white carpet and juicy fingers covered the counters. A spotless house removes the reminders of its inhabitants, and a sticky home leaves the fingerprints and footsteps of the energetic youth that once built forts on the stairs and launched water balloons over the roof.
Affection grows over time. When we look at a newly constructed house, however neat, we are not instantly connected to it. We can only grow affectionate towards things when memories are made. While the backyard’s patchy landscaping may, to a prospective buyer, imply disregard, to the homeowner, the lilacs recall the May days where daughters decorated their hair with the blooms. Affection gravitates toward the “sticky,” the imperfect. And it is the imperfect house that becomes a home of affection.
As I move on to college, I’m afraid of leaving a home. Dorm rooms are stale and bare. But before me, students ran down the hallways. The walls of peeling paint speak stories of their own. Just like freshmen before me, I will make a plain dorm room an imperfect, memorable, sticky one—a home.