Homeland Spring 2022 Editorial: Moving Home
I moved home a few years ago. I live in the house where my great-uncle was born, where my grandmother, and her siblings, and my mother and her siblings celebrated their first birthdays–and many of the subsequent ones. We have pictures of me, proudly held by my brothers, in the living room, on our way home from the hospital, and celebrating my second birthday at the dining room table.
My mom knows where the old wringer washing machine sat on the porch, where the swing–made from cavalry-surplus breeding hobbles–used to hang. Every day I go down the steps my mom came down on her wedding day. My grandparents held hands for the last time in this house.
As I play with my kids on the black-and-orange swirly carpet, or I strategically place furniture to minimize the slant to the floor, I know this isn’t anyone’s dream home. It’s been added onto several times, every room was paneled in the 1970s, there’s one bathroom, and I dread to think of what it’s going to take to pry the linoleum off the fir floors.
It may not be my dream home, but it’s my memory home.
I remember one of the last times I was in this house with both my grandparents, watching the snow aimlessly drift, while Grammy’s frozen, homemade chicken and noodles heated on the wood stove. Grammy’s soft white hair was gone by then, but her smile and her laugh were still as warm as the stove, and as comforting as the soup.
Now I remember my kids playing in the mud puddles in the yard, and dancing with the ancient umbrellas unearthed from a closet. They play in the soft-sifted dirt in the barn, and hunt for kittens among the hay bales.
I sit on the front steps, like I did when I was little, and in the distance I can hear the cars on the highway, but closer in are the red-winged blackbirds, the ducks, the killdeer, the doves and the chorus frogs.
The lilacs my great-grandfather planted scent the breeze that drifts in my office door, and Grammy’s purple irises color the foundation of the house.
We’ve been trimming trees, fighting sandburs, leveling the yard, cleaning the closets, painting the paneling, fixing the fence, rebuilding the corrals. We discovered an old, rotted cellar, and my great-grandfather’s rock garden.
As we stand back and try to set aside the memories to make room for dreams, to hold onto the past but build toward the future, it takes some balance. I tend to hold on too tightly; some let go too easily.
But in the middle, where we make room for modern life in a house that was built when the bathwater was heated on the stove, I’m at home.
And when I head out to the pasture with my daughter and two halters, or I roll out homemade noodles with Grammy’s rolling pin, I know any place is the right place, if it makes room for both dreams and memories, with a foundation of peace.
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