My husband and I move once every one to two years, so we never have much time to form ties to a house or a neighborhood. We have always considered our home to be with each other, no matter what the building that protects us happens to be. It wasn’t until my parents decided to move that I realized what home really means. See, my parents have a tendency to stay in one place a bit longer, and that means there is plenty of time to build up a treasure of memories. Because we were so jaded where moving was concerned, we didn’t expect the emotions that overtook us when we started packing boxes.
After all, the front porch of that house was where I saw my husband, Liam, for the first time. I still remember what he looked like as he strolled up the walk toward me, with his red polo shirt, his ruddy cheeks, and his hair in perfect disarray. I think I knew in that instant he was forever, but the realization came much later. Whenever I think back to that perfect moment, I’ll remember a house that is now holding someone else’s memories.
This was the home where my nephew was raised from infancy–where all of his firsts took place. The first step, the first word, the first time he called me Jiffiner. While I certainly have possession of those memories for all time, I must share some part of them with the house in which they happened. My nephew is eleven years old now, and he’ll start a whole new era of his life in a new home. He’ll think back, though, and remember the house on the hill and all the learning he did there.
For all that a home carries memories of first love and growing up, it also carries the burden of loss. My parents’ home saw its fair share, with two beloved aunts and my great-grandmother passing away during the years my parents lived there. It was also in this house that I had to let go of a dream I’d had since childhood. After my car accident, I had to set aside the acceptance letters to music schools in New York City so that I could concentrate on healing. There were tears, and love, and support given freely and accepted with just as much grace. There was renewed faith and a stronger sense of familial bonds. It was a home that wouldn’t allow the darkness to dwell, and that light is what kept me returning, even when I had my own home with my husband.
The new house sits high on a hill in the historic district of town. It is beautiful, of course, and carries the memories of families that went before. With nearly one hundred years’ worth of birthdays, the house has seen more than I could ever dream. I find comfort in the marks I find from others before us, because it gives me hope that we will also somehow live forever in the walls and floors of that house we once called home.