I just finished reading an article in the one and only magazine that I subscribe to, More-for Woman of Style and Substance, http://www.more.com. Time to Move AWAY FROM HOME? by Lesley Jane Seymour, Editor-in-Chief. It was all about home, not just a physical place, but the place that calls to our heart, the place where memories are made.
What do your remember about your childhood home? Was it just a space to go home after the school day or was it much more?
I grew up in a very small town, and to this day, the population has not grown by much. There are a few remaining landmarks, the elementary school where I spent my first 5 years, the old gym, a marker that marks the spot of the old high school that stood for over 50 years, the one and only church in town, and the old gas station, which is now a house. The first house I first called home, consisted of four rooms: a kitchen, a living room, and two bedrooms. My two brothers and I shared one room and my parents the other. Since there was no indoor plumbing and no bathroom, an outhouse at the back of the yard served as our bathroom. We took baths in the sink until we outgrew and moved to a double washtub. There were two heating stoves in the house, one in the kitchen and one in the living room. I remember that there was always a pot of water on each to keep the air moist and when all the water evaporated, it left a white ring around the inside rim. My father attempted to add on a bedroom for the boys as well as a bathroom, but never finished it for whatever reason. The "bathroom" ended up being my bedroom as a teen-ager and the shell of the bedroom become out playhouse. In the backyard there was a garden on the opposite side and also a shed, which we claimed as ours, that is when our father was no where around. I remember smoking my first cigar with my middle brother behind that shed and how sick we got. Beyond our back yard was the world, or so we thought and we would go into the woods and find an adventure. That's the physical place that I called home.
My parents divorced when I was 11 or 12 and so we moved in with my maternal Grandmother's old house. This was the same one that my Mother experienced her high school years at and one where I finally got my own room. The ceilings and walls were painted with this drab green and both were covered with all kinds of grafitti. I would spend many a night just staring up at the ceilings reading the words and wondered what those walls saw and heard.
I moved in my senior year to the "city" and this time I really did have a room to call my own. Finally I could be free to express myself, but most of all felt like I really found a place to call home. I had a couple of friends the last year I stayed in that house, a new one that I had met at my new high school and one that I become friends with in the 8th grade. We would spend many a night staying up late talking and giggeling, talking about so and so and you know what so and so said. On Saturday nights, we had family night. We would make homemade pizza and play a variety of board games. Sometimes we won, but most of the time, my Step-Dad did. We always said he cheated, but now I know it was just skill.
Eighteen years ago this halloween, we closed on the house we now call home. These walls have heard and seen a lot of things. Two babies grew up in this house. Eighteen years of holidays, family gatherings, and a place for my children to call "home." Now that my husband and I are moving closer and closer to an empty nest, we too have thought of downsizing. Not by any means that our home is huge, but the more and more I think how empty it it will be in a few years, the more I want to compress the space. But then I think about the next generation to come - grandchildren. Yes I can wait, patiently, for the pitter patter of little feet with little arms raised saying "pick me up I need a hug and a kiss" and to hear those sweet little words "I love you Grandma," I think for now, I can look forward to these next few years as we watch the memories unfold in front of us. I'm looking forward to growing old with my Hunny Bunny, sitting on the back porch watching the sun come up and go down, to the phone ringing, and hearing the voices of my grown married children as they bring us up to speed on their life happenings.
My mother seet me one of those little inspirational cards to calm my homesick heart during my first duty station, that simply said "Home is where the heart is." I've kept that little card as a reminder that it doesn't matter what kind of a house that I live it, but rather it is the occupants that make the living worth while.