With the exception of the home I lived in for two years in Austin, which provides me in part with my stake to true Texan, my family only lived in one house. Our home sat on the same slope for about thirty years. The house on the dead end served as the backdrop to my childhood, adolescents, and adulthood. I know each creak and can navigate from any point to another in the dead of night. Each room holds memories for me.
The house was filled with the good and the bad. I know where I sat watching national tragedies unfold like the Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, and 9/11. I remember all the different configurations of the furniture and the decor. I remember all the colors of the walls and the wallpaper that once covered many spaces in the mid-90s. I watched the trees we planted grow from small saplings to the towering canopies they are now. I remember watching my aunt and mom attempt to rollerblade and building snowmen and snow forts in the front yard. We held wiffle ball tournaments in the small patch of grass next to the garage. I flipped over the mailbox trying to be a big kid on my brand new bike and gained a really cool scar. We played football, soccer, basketball and any other sport we could think of. I know where the backyard dips because of the turtle shaped sandbox that once sat there.
This house served as the backdrop to the mundane and ridiculous of my family’s life. The rooms and spaces each hold countless stories for all of us.
The upstairs landing served as my schoolhouse through homeschooling. It was the stage for my imagination to elaborately explode. We held the most magnificent journeys through jungles, flight school, train trips across the world, and much more. It was the place where my sister fell for one of my elaborate plans to create a pulley system to get the library books up using thread and a very heavy bag of books. Needless to say, her leg still bears the scar of that adventure. It would have worked if I had had rope.
I will never forget Anna and I sweating as we would cover our bodies with damp washcloths and wait for the fan to rotate back to us in the dead of summer because the air conditioner wasn’t super strong. When any two of us were walking up the stairs around the same time, we raced. No words spoken, the race just started.
I can hear the laughter echo through each room as I recall the spaces that flood my memory. I can remember the heartbreak or the arguments that from time to time played out in those spaces, though they always divulged into quoting Steel Magnolias or some other movie. I can paint the memories of family and friends crowded around tables and weaving through tight spaces for holiday meals. I knew all the best hiding spaces for the annual Easter egg hunt that continues to this day with my family and friends.
At the end of May my entire family gathered together to all be in the house for one last time. We celebrated my dad’s birthday together and all put our feet under the table, my mom’s favorite mantra. We shared memories and laughed in the short galley kitchen. I chased my niece and nephew around the same spaces I ran at their age. We took one last picture on the same steps that served as the setting to prom pictures, family photos, and incredible awkward home-schooled pictures.
My mom made a book about our house sharing our memories with pictures and stories. We all crammed into the smallest space to be together as we read it. A few weeks later they put the only home all of us really knew on the market. It sold in days bringing great excitement and a gut punch of sorts.
I went over to help my parents start packing their home as they prepared to move into an apartment while their new home is renovated. I found more items that held memories and spaces that I had forgotten existed in my memory as I wrapped delicate glassware, great-grandma’s hand painted china (no pressure), notes from Meemaw, grandpa’s jacket, and seemingly every single thing I ever created, though I did convince my parents they do not need to keep every single thing I ever created.
Change is a weird thing. As the rooms very slowly turned from beloved rooms into foreign spaces with boxes in them, I started to see that I no longer stood in the house I knew. Instead I found myself in empty shells of what once was. Our time as a family in this space needed to come to an end. The house I knew no longer needed to be ours.
My parents now get to dream of and create a space together that will meet their needs and our needs as a family. They get to live out a dream I have heard about since I was probably six years old and move downtown in our little community. They will create a new space for our family to laugh and crowd into one small space together. The spot for the Christmas tree has been plotted out and looking at the blue prints I can predict where some of the Easter eggs will go.
This new season started with the end of an era. And while the house will no longer be ours, the many seasons and memories we had there will always belong to us. In the end, what was created here was not merely a home housed in this structure. What was created and fortified here was a family. A family that goes beyond the five of us and bleeds into the many who have become part of our family through this home. 1808 was the house that helped shape us all into who we are today as individuals and as a collective unit. The physical space of our adventure does not matter. What matters instead is the people we are going on the adventure with, our family. So here’s to a new zip code and new route home for all of us.