But even though I saw much of the world and had traveled to five countries before I was ten, there was always home. Even when we were halfway between one place and the next, I knew, as a kid and later on as a teenager, that our home was going to be made wherever we landed on the map.
As we unpacked boxes and assigned rooms in the new house, there were always favorite things that I loved to watch being unpacked. I was thinking about them the other day, that they were just a small part of what made our house a home. They were just the things that brought back the memories.
A few mornings ago, I took my camera on a small tour of the house… of things that I might not otherwise notice. Light, shadow, detail.
Starting with the books. I can remember many a moving company inwardly groaning over the shelves and shelves of books we had. But what could we say? We love books. From vintage titles that my Mom grew up with (think an autographed Marguerite Henry book!) to definite 90s reads (The Boxcar Children, anyone?), these are the books of my childhood. We moved them all over the world, and they’re still a very (veryveryveryvery) important part of my life. I love books. Did I mention that?
Mom and Dad bought this little painting at an art sale in a park when they owned their first apartment. It’s been one of my FAVORITE things ever since I can remember. I recall sitting for long periods of time and studying that little wave, watching the blues and whites and wishing that I could feel the salt breeze on my face. Just for a second.
We’ve always had pictures of the people that some of us never met. Our house was always filled with stories, too… especially of my Mom’s parents. Both Grandma and Grandpa died before I was born, but I feel like I knew them. Know them.
And of course those old-fashioned clothes in pictures of my grandparents as kids are just awesome.
We’ve always had music, too. The piano – a prominent piece of furniture that goes in and out of tune regularly. Various instruments coming and going out of the house. Stacks of cassette tapes, later, cds, and always the crackly static of the radio through strains of Vivaldi and the Beach Boys.
Shaking out sand and hanging the fading colors in the sun to dry the saltwater that spreads in patches where we sat, fresh from the water. A beach picnic.
Smelling like wood smoke and laughter after an evening of sitting by the bonfire… maybe a few drops from a melting marshmallow to be scrubbed out in the morning.
Curled up around two or three of us at a time, with hot chocolate, watching those black and white Steve McQueen shows or Pride and Prejudice on a winter afternoon.
And the many (many many many) chilly mornings, piled around me on the couch. Daddy reads aloud and we all follow in our open Bibles as the sun melts the frost off the windows, peeking up from the mountains to the East.
The one we’re NOT supposed to put our feet on…
Daddy’s desk. Instead of being away like when he was in the Navy, he works downstairs at the desk sitting downstairs in the basement. But I still remember the feeling of visiting Daddy and work and exploring – going through every single drawer in hope of a peppermint or butterscotch. And they were always in the same place. The drawer we saved for last.
Our kitchen. Always a place for experimenting and delicious things. From my first batch of cupcakes, to cooking lasagna for guests, and all those Sunday mornings in between, flipping blueberry pancakes with Dad, I’ve always loved the kitchen. It’s like the hub of our house. Despite the fact that it’s one of the smaller rooms in our current home.
No one ever uses the front door, they all come in through the kitchen. This has been a source of some frustration for Mom, but I rather like it. When our guests come in, they’re where we always are. The kitchen is rarely empty – someone studying at the table, washing up at the sink, baking cookies. No matter where our kitchen was, it was always full. And happy, and the place to be. It’s still the place to be, with its big windows, yellow walls, and array of yummy things and the tools to make them.
It’s where we dance barefoot and wrestle and tell jokes. It’s where we make mistakes and ruin recipes; but we can also feed the family and discover new things.
Barbequed chicken covers a multitude of sins. And cinnamon rolls cure bucketloads of complaints.
Coats. Jackets. Sweatshirts. hanging up downstairs by the fireplace – warming up so you can step out into those frosty nights. I always love coming in after doing the chores on below zero mornings… hanging up my barn jacket and stomping the snow off my boots before running to the wood stove to heat up numb fingers. Definitely coming home.
The woodpile… always changing yet always the same. It’s hard work and it burns up in no time during the long winter nights. But it’s yet another chance for us to work together as a family, to be together. Filling it up is always like completing a race.
like hello, morning hair.
Though it hasn’t been around the world with us, I love this poster that my little sis hung in our room while I was away at college. I wake up facing it every morning. It’s awesome inspiration. To say the least.
So that’s my house. The things in it that helped make memories. Now the things that bring those memories back. When I remember, sometimes I’m a child again. Sometimes I’m fourteen. Sometimes it’s yesterday, and sometimes it’s the whispy imaginings of the years before I existed. It’s where I live. It’s who I am.
And it’s not nearly as special to me as the people inside.