The House That Built Me
The earth has been spinning for millions of years. Don't ask me how many million, I didn’t pay much attention in that class, but I promise you, it's more than a few.
But the funny thing is, for the first 18 years of your life, you didn’t notice it spinning.
Like most young adults, you were granted a rough patch from ages 12 - 17. During said rough patch, you assumed that the world was revolving around you. You, of course, were the center of the universe.
And then, high school ended, and college started and you suddenly realized that the world was spinning.
Things need to be done, decisions need to be made, reports need to be turned in, resumes need to be updated, dresses need to be dropped off and you also have to eat lunch and feed your dog and grab drinks with your friends and do your laundry and decide what to do about that guy you’ve been texting, and you haven’t made your bed or grocery shopped in two weeks and you definitely should shower today because you’ve put it off one day too long and now you’re pushing it.
And it’s only Tuesday.
See? The spinning. You’re noticing it now. You just graduated; it’s hitting you. The world is going to spin and you’re going to have to spin with it from now on and that’s it, there isn’t a thing you can do about it.
But the good news is, there's a place where you don’t notice the spinning.
A safe haven, a home base, a hiding place.
Your parents' house. The place you grew up. The place where you’re still the center of the universe. The place you know like the back of your hand.
You know which stairs creak. You know which windows don’t close all the way. You know what the stain on the living room carpet is, and you still occasionally feel a pang of guilt when you remember that you blamed it on your brother. You know how to get there even when it's dark or raining or snowing. You know the back roads, the crowded roads, which roads have the most cops, waiting to ticket unsuspecting high schoolers.
You know it better than you know yourself. And the world doesn’t spin so much there.
And then one day, it does.
The center of your universe, the place where the world doesn’t spin for you disappears. A week before you started your last semester of college, your dad told you he’s moving.
Not moving in a small way, like up the street or across town or something. Moving in a big way — moving across the country.
And suddenly you have nowhere to go to stop the spinning. And now is when the world is spinning the most. You don’t have plans for after you graduate. You have an internship and an apartment lease for three months and then you’re done. Free falling into adulthood, no safety net. Literally. There are no backup plans. Anymore, that is.
Home, your still, silent Home was the safety net. Because after years of spinning it’s time to take a break, to slow down, to cool off. And you were going to break and slow and cool there. And then it was gone.
Of course there are other places. Like they say, “home is where the heart is,” and your heart is now divided between your freshman dorm room with your cooler-than-you roommate from Chicago, your first apartment with your first two real friends and a thousand bugs, your first house with four girls and a constant revolving door of boys and Yellowtail merlot, and the last apartment, the one you really adult-ed in for the first time and made so cozy before you left.
But you saved the biggest part of your heart for your childhood Home.
And its hard to explain how four walls and a roof could really hold that much for you. How your childhood bedroom, the walls painted four times over could really mean so much. How the stain on the living room carpet that you still blame on your brother could make you feel so much.
But then you realize.
It's not the walls. It’s not the paint or the carpet. It’s the memories.
The memories of painting the walls when your mom was out of town and having it be a surprise. The memories of spilling nail polish on the carpet when your parents were out and never wanting to admit it because you knew you weren’t supposed to paint your nails in the living room.
The memories that you can take with you. The memories that you still have, that you still think of even in your dorm or your first apartment. The memories you’ve never forgotten.
And suddenly, the world slows down a little. Maybe, for a moment, it even stops spinning.