For those of you that don't know, I now live in a house that is across the street from the house I grew up in. I lived in that house from about one year of age until I was 15. To say it holds a lot of memories for me is an understatement.
It has been vacant now for several months. When the last renters were there, I walked through the old spaces that I used to know so well. They'd lost most of their magic, and things had changed enough that is was no longer my home.
Yet today, while I sit and look out my big window, across the street, in the bleak February air I see six squirrels dancing around in the front yard, running up and down trees my dad planted. I think of the "pet" squirrel my sister and I had, Puffy, that lived in our yard after my mom and dad nursed him back to health. He would come down from one of those same trees and eat pecans out of our hands. I doubt any of today's squirrels are descendants of Puffy, but it's fun to imagine that it is possible.
And even though the wallpaper was different, and things smelled different, when I walked through those rooms, and when I look across at its peaked roof, I can't help but think of the old Miranda Lambert song, "The House That Built Me." She sings about going back to her childhood home, and telling the lady that lives there now, "I know you don't know me from Adam, but these handprints on the front steps are mine." And I think about the set of handprints on the garage floor that are mine. I think about the garage that burnt down around them one scary night in a February 13 years ago, and yet I know they are still there in that concrete, under the roof of the new garage we built back.
She goes on in the song, saying, "Up those stairs, in that little back bedroom, is where I did my homework and learned to play guitar." And I think of my little bedroom, with its tiny closet that my dad used, and my clothes that hung from a rack my grandpa built, and how, by the time we moved, the clothes that fit my long legged 15 year old frame hit the floor. I think of the countless Barbie's lives that were invented on that hardwood floor, the books that were read in the corner I turned into a secret hideout, and the daydreaming that was done in the little twin bed in the corner.
Miranda finishes the song with, "You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can. I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am. I thought maybe I could find myself, if I could just come in, I swear, I'll leave; won't take nothing but a memory, from the house that built me."
It's hard to believe that I've almost reached the point where I've lived longer outside of those walls than I spent there. And I think I get what Miranda was singing about; I get that there is something intrinsically a part of me in that house. It was in that house that I saw my sister, night after night, in 4th grade, reading her bible. It was in that house that, every night, we met at the dinner table and shared a meal and swapped stories. It was in that house that my dad rescued me from countless nightmares, and my mom stayed up with me until my fevers broke. It was in that house that we met and got to know the families of the girls my mom babysat. It was in that house that I watched my dad paint in his makeshift studio in our dining room, and tapped into my own creativity. And it was in that house that I learned what it meant to be a part of a family, I traversed the chaos of middle school and puberty, and fell in love with reading in the lilac bushes in the front yard. It was in that house that I first learned what Jesus love really was.
I kind of like the fact that if I get lost in this "old world" and forget who I am, I can take a peak out my windows and be reminded of the foundation I come from.
I kind of like that, every day, just across the red brick street, I am staring at a reminder of the importance of creating a home for my family-- I am reminded that the job title of "homemaker" is so very important, for it is the heartbeat of our family. And one day I hope my children will want to come back and knock on the door of this old brick house if ever they need to be reminded of who they are and where they come from.