I’m going home in two weeks. By which I mean, back to my parents’ house. Is it wrong that I’m almost 30 and I still think of my parents’ house as “home”?
Of course, I think of this house as home too. When I’m at the park with Adeline and she’s starting to get cranky, I tell her, “OK, sweetie, let’s go home.” When I actually manage to get a night out with David and we have to get back to relieve the babysitter, I say, “I think we should head home.” And yes, when I’m at my parents’ house in a couple weeks and I start to get sick of not having all my stuff around, I’ll call David and say, “I’m really excited to come home.”
But in many ways, this doesn’t feel like my home. Maybe it’s because we’re renting. There’s a certain transitory feeling when you know you might only be in a house for another year. You don’t quite settle in because you know you might just have to pack up again. You don’t really like the wall color but you can’t paint it. The sinks are bizarre but you can’t do any renovations. You wish the backyard was fenced in, but you can’t put up a fence.
And more than that, there’s no history here. When I go home to see my parents, I’ll go to the house that they’ve lived in for almost twenty years. The house that I lived in when I was in high school. I’ll sleep in the bed that was mine since childhood. The smell of the house will hit me when I walk in the door: the smell of home. And I’ll notice without noticing all of the little quirks of a house that has been well-lived in: the corner of the door that the dog chewed up, the missing stopper in the shower, the way the cord for the blinds is tangled (and has been for fifteen years), the dog hair on the couch that could never be fully cleaned, the loose bedpost on my old bed, the way the door to the storage room sticks, the ever-present coffee rings on the kitchen counter.
My sister will be home at the same time. A family reunion, if you will. It will be the first time we’ve both been home without our significant others in years. Honestly, maybe a decade. My family. Just the four of us. Oh, and little Adeline and her cousin Gulliver.
That is my family, but I have a more present and purposeful family now. David and Adeline. Just the three of us. And this house, here with them, is my home. We may not have decades of history behind us, but we have one pretty fantastic year. Adeline crawled for the first time in the basement right near where I sit to type this. She learned to walk in the kitchen, the living room, her nursery, everywhere and anywhere that I’d let her. The three of us slept together in our bedroom for months, and still do on the rare chance that she’ll go back to sleep when we snuggle in the mornings. We watched her take her first bite of food at the kitchen table and she had her first big fall in the bathroom. She had her first birthday party in this house, surrounded by friends and family. My family. All of us.