Reflecting on my childhood home.
|“The House That Built Me”
Through tear filled eyes I watched as the home that fostered all of my childhood memories disappeared in the rearview mirror. Quietly the somber tune of “The House That Built Me” flowed through the car speakers. The last verse of this song played as if it were written for me in this moment of time, my own life’s last verse of my childhood home. Miranda Lambert’s song only intensified all the emotions teaming inside my chest, the emotions that I had tried so hard to suppress finally overflowed.
This home that I speak of, was the home that held memories, memories that had faded in the 23 years that I lived there. Now, at the age of 25, and married with a new home of my own, did I ever expect a reaction such as this to swirl in my chest as I pulled away for the last time. My parents had made the difficult decision to sell the house where so many precious memories originated. Our entire family’s history stood wrapped in white cinderblock.
Pasadena, the town in which we once called home, rapidly diminished as my parents were left with an empty nest. As adults, we, their children feared for their well-being. The neighborhood, no longer safe enough to walk home from school which I could see from the back yard. While away at college black iron bars gradually appeared on homes, businesses, and buildings. This only reassured our decision. Steadily, throughout the last few months we completed improvement projects here and there, preparing to put the house on the market. Busy moving on with my own life it had not yet set in that I’d take only memories.
The lyrics of the song flooded my mind with recollections from the past. I remember the smell of our wood paneled Astro van and my oldest sisters’ hairspray as we pulled into the bumpy uneven drive way for the first time. Through the window I stared at this place, a place that I was expected to call home even through its unfamiliarity. Walking up to the covered porch I observed the horrible paint color from the 70’s that reminded my two year old self of mint ice cream. The trees that seemed like huge towers, shaded my small body then, just as they did that last day. Originally confused, I had no idea what my parents saw in that house; but dad’s determination to bring my mother’s dreams to life made it so. Over the next 23 years he did just that.
Shortly after moving in, the surprise addition of my little sister, inspired the conversion of our large wooden planked craft room into what would become known as “the girls’ room.” My sister and I would share this room for years to come, strengthening our bond as we grew. We spent numerous nights awake giggling and creating our own original fairytales. Throughout the summers we would make tents that engulfed our small trundle bed. This room held nights of singing with my siblings, Barbies, Power Rangers, and so much more. It held more memories than I could ever imagine.
In a relatively fresh patch of cement, just outside the garage, remain the tiny impressions of our hands. Inspired to leave our mark on our home, just as the previous owners had done with their tiny feet in the driveway. After repairing the foundation of our aging home, the opportunity arrived. We, the three youngest children, placed our hands in the cool fresh concrete. I remember my sisters’ happy squeal as wet concrete squished through her fingers, when pressing her hands beside mine.
My father’s promise to my mother played out through the years. The home improvement tasks became family projects. The projects that should take days, took weeks; but weeks that I would never trade. All seven of us worked at transforming our dated house into something from the magazines. From laying the tile, to the numerous amount of remodeling projects that made the house, our home. Looking out through the large bay windows in the living room lay even more memories in the yard. Our large yard that was thriving with growth and anchored with an enormous live oak in the center, held reminiscences of family game nights, long summer days, and cool winter nights beside the campfire. Beneath the oak’s supple shade, stood the club house that was built nail by nail during one of our many spring break adventures. Enclosed, under the floor boards, was a time capsule placed there by the youngest three children of things we thought would last forever. Our back yard was the place my family grew and changed, as the seasons did.
Many of the memories made and the lessons learned in our home flooded my head and eroded my heart. The new house will hold many new memories, but it’ll never be considered home. 540 Llano will forever remain as the home that protected us from storms, watched us grow into adults, grew with us and welcomed the arrivals of my niece and three nephews. It will forever be our home. I know the brokenness in my heart might start healing as I realize my childhood house is “The House That Built Me.”