Home is where your heart is and have I left mine in several places.
We met with Gina, Billy and their real estate agent last night and walked through a house for sale with them. On the way home I was quiet in the car as I recalled the first house we bought, back in 1977.
It was a modest duplex under construction, in Millersville, Maryland. Thirty years later, I can still recall the smell of the sandy soil and fresh pines we breathed as we walked the lot during the hot summer months and made a list of errors in construction. That house holds seven years of memories. We brought Gina home in that house, two days after her birth in 1982. We lived with three cats – Muffet, Mini, and Maggie. Sadly, we lost Muffet one year earlier to the day that Gina was born. The house was small inside but the backyard was a little, tree-filled wonderland. I remember doing our first painting and wallpapering jobs there and the fun of shopping at all of the home stores every weekend. I particularly loved the glossy wallpaper and Hollywood lights we hung in the only full bathroom in the house. Gina’s nursery was painted white and the largest wall in her room was papered with cute little sheep in bright, primary colors. Pretty yellow Priscilla curtains hung at her window. I remember so much…
Our next house, in Pasadena, Maryland, holds five years of memories. Maggie died and another cat, Ralphie, joined our family; Gina finally started sleeping through the night at seventeen months in her big girl bed; I decorated a 14-foot tall Frazier fur Christmas tree that needed to be tied up because it was so large; we bought our first sunroom; I returned to work after a three year leave; we celebrated Gina’s first birthday and she entered kindergarten; and, I loved those cathedral ceilings and the pizzazz inside. That home was struck by lightning twice but I’ll never forget how special it was. I drove by that house last Spring while my Mom was in the hospital and winced at the site where we had planted a “Gina’s first birthday” pin oak tree in the front yard. It had been cut down.
Fourteen years of memories are cherished in our home in Bel Air, Maryland. There are too many memories to list but a lot of growing and loving took place there. Gina grew up from a little first grader to a sophomore in college in that lovely home. Michael and I aged! We celebrated a First Communion, forty-two birthdays, and fifteen Christmases. We lost two cats to old age, welcomed Casey, a Cocker Spaniel who died at the age of five, and welcomed Chloe who is still kicking at age eleven. I’ll never forget how lovely that home was, even during those few years we grimaced at the poor paint choice I made in the living room. It was Pepto-Bismol pink. We built our first pond there and I met my first Great Blue Heron beside it. We buried at least two dozen gerbils down the back and buried our beloved cat, Mini, back there, too. Very few days or evenings would pass when I wouldn’t say out loud, “I love you, Mini” while visiting her gravesite under a large weeping willow tree. We buried her on a warm day in April and it was the first time that year I heard tree frogs singing. Whenever I hear tree frogs in the spring, I think of her.
We had three short years in Delaware in a very lovely golf course home. It was situated at the ninth tee and we were able to wave and say hello to those we knew while they were teeing off. Since Michael and I customized the floor plan, it was probably the best home we’ve ever had. It was wide open with many windows and the Delaware flatland sunrises and sunsets were spectacular. Michael’s Dad died while we lived there and we welcomed Bella in that home.
My current home is very special to me, too, and it’s equally as lovely as the others. I’ve only been here for one and a half years but it has a few memories attached already – the death of my Mother and the brighter memory of Gina coming home to be nearby after six years of living so far apart.
Once in a while, I yearn to see, feel, and smell my homes again. I would also love to see the home where I grew up and the homes my parents had during the past twenty years. The comforting smell of each one still lingers in my mind and I can visualize where the rips in the linoleum were, the size of the linen closets and pantries, and the places where I stored the vacuum cleaner in each house. I can still vividly remember every nook and cranny of every home I loved and can remember myself walking through those homes with a basket of laundry on my hip and hoping I wouldn’t trip over a cat, dog, or toys. If I were able to walk from room to room again (with a box of tissues), it would bring back the fondest and most heartwarming memories and emotions, even if our successors gave those rooms complete makeovers. Perhaps my curiosity would disappoint me.
There are people who move on from home to home and never look back. I treasure all of those four walls that embraced us in laughter and sadness. Have you ever longed to visit a home from your past?