“Won’t take nothin’ but a memory from the house that built me.” – Miranda Lambert
After you spend a number of years moving around, the question “Where are you from?” becomes a bit comical to a military family, and it can be surprisingly difficult to answer. The answer could be anywhere – the town where you were born, the home your parents moved to after you left, the assignment that you loved the most and that feels like home, the assignment you had before this one…
But recently I heard a song, Miranda Lambert’s “The House that Built Me,” which is about a woman retracing memories through her childhood home, and it got me thinking about where I come from… where I really come from: the place I came home to days after I was born, and the place I came home to every day for the next 21 years. The place that’s in my mind’s eye when I think of home.
My childhood home was idyllic, a near-century-old home with creaky floors, single-sinked bathrooms, and a sprawling yard shaded by two 100-year-old oaks. In the back, a long driveway that we called our alley was shared by ten houses. Young kids trampled across backyards, rode bikes up and down the alley, and paid visits to the two elderly sisters living next door to us, who always had a stash of cookies. Our mothers watched us through kitchen windows and called us in when it started to get dark.
Summers were dreamlike, with crickets chirping, children squealing, cicadas buzzing, breezes blowing, balls bouncing, bicycles whizzing, jump ropes slapping, chalk scraping, feet hopping, popsicles slurping, and cares… not existing. The sounds of summer hung in that seemingly perpetual pinkish haze just before sunset, when the pure and blissful hearts of children gave exuberant life to a neighborhood that had existed for over a hundred years… and that would continue to exist for hundreds more.
It’s been fourteen years since my parents moved to a newer, shinier place, but when I sleep and dream of home, I’m back in that old house, walking through my bedroom or waving to my best friend across the yard. And I wonder…
If I were to return, knock on the door as the woman in the song did, who would open the door? What would I want to say to them, show them? Would life exist for them as it did for us in that house? Do they know, do they fully understand how special, how extraordinary their neighborhood is?
Do they know that my neighbors and my family experienced Continue reading