Monday, September 19, 2016

The House that Built Me

This song plays and my mind (and heart) go back to my childhood home. In an attempt to gain deeper knowledge about myself, I've been digging into the memories I have from growing up.

The house I was raised in was a family home. My great-grandparents lived there. My grandparents lived there. My parents lived there. There was history there. And not just history...MY history. The rooms I played in, my grandfather played in as well as my mother.

I remember lying in my bed at night and I imagined that I could feel the heartbeat of the house through the walls. Not in a creepy Stephen King way, but a soothing way. So many people talk about a house bursting at the seams. In my mind, our burst at the seams from all the love that had been created in that house.

It wasn't a house that would win awards from HGTV, but to me, it was beautiful. In the front yard stood a HUGE maple tree that, for years, held an old tire swing. One of the roots had grown above the surface and made the perfect step for us kids. There was a lilac hedge that grew the length of the front yard. The breeze would blow through them in the spring and scent the entire house. Tiger lilies grew out by the mailbox. Two large oak trees grew at the end of our driveway and a yellow maple grew in the front yard near the road. The willow in the backyard made an excellent hiding place until Mom trimmed it. *G* I can still see the clothes blowing on the clothesline in the summer breeze. Freshly washed and dried sheets just off the line are always amazing to climb into at night. I miss that feeling.

Inside the house smelled clean and filled with baked goods. It was a rare occurrence that Mom wasn't in the kitchen, baking something. Whether it was pies, cookies, or cake, she always had something in the oven. Then, there were the meals. On the cool fall or cold winter days, ghoulash or chili would simmering away on the stove with homemade bread in the oven. Spring and summer usually brought lighter fare like creamed potatoes with fresh peas.

As much as I cringed over the pink rosebud wallpaper in my room (wasn't quite the girly girl), I loved tracing the pattern as I sat in my bed reading. As I grew up, I added bits and pieces of furniture to make my own living space. I had the perfect little apartment set up. A living area and bedroom plus I used the hallway as a place to set up a desk. I loved having my own space to be alone.

Before we lost the farm, my summer days were filled with all sorts of things. Gardening, picking berries, taking care of the animals, and on those rare days with nothing to do, I'd pack a bag and take off across the pastures to the creek that ran along the back of our property. A couple of hard boiled eggs, a shaker of salt, a glass of lemonade, and a couple of cookies along with a towel and books, I'd set off for the afternoon. Getting lost in my own imagination was the best way for me to while away the hot summer day, dangling my feet in the creek.

I remember Saturday lunches of burgers, homemade fries, and malts while watching television. On occasion, Dad would get out his guitar and play. Summer evenings meant playing ball in the front yard once chores were done. Winter nights meant board games or television. If it were Christmastime, lots of baking. Dad would turn on the music and we would sing and dance while fudge bubbled away on the stovetop and cookies baked in the ovens.

Sure it sounds ideal, right? Let's not forget the arguments...especially when I became a teenager. Mom and I had more than our share of arguments that ended with either one or both of us in tears. Dad would tell me later how he tried hard not to laugh at us because we were often saying the same thing and both were so damned certain we were right. We learned that communication (at least for us) worked better if we wrote out our feelings. Often, I'd come home from school and there would be a note, written on stationary, lying on the stairs to my room. I'd read it, cry, smile and then reply. Then, I'd take my own note and put it on the counter. It's not that we didn't communicate. It was that we expressed our feelings better on paper. (Not a huge surprise that I became a writer after knowing this, right?)

When I left that house, my heart broke. I knew every nook and cranny of that old farmhouse. It was home. I have spent all of my adult life trying to have a home like that and I haven't managed yet. I've lived in many different places in a few different states, but home? Never have achieved that feeling. I'm still trying, but I've learned that it isn't necessarily the actual building, but the people who make a house a home. Of course, after re-reading this for any errors, I can see the truth. The house was just the storage place for all that love. It was the people who made that old farmhouse home. I'm still working on building a home my own to hold all the love that is created.

No comments:

Post a Comment