When I was 12 years old, my childhood family moved from the house I had lived in since birth to a new house about three blocks away.
Even though the new house was bigger, newer and better, I missed the familiarity of the other house. Years later when the second house was sold, I dreamed of living in it with my own family, but we lived hours away so that wish was impractical at best. I lived in dorm rooms and a few apartments with roommates when I was a young adult, but I was always eager for a change during that time in my life. After marrying my Army man, we moved 11 times in 20 years, living in a variety of locations and places. We made a home out of each dwelling we lived in and created memories within its walls. Some places we loved, others were just okay and some we loved to hate. Here are some of them:
One year while lamenting about having to leave yet another place we loved, my mom responded by uttering words she had said before…..”Four walls. It’s just four walls”. She was right. Houses are brick and wood that exist to protect us from the elements and evil. Still, there’s comfort in a well-rehearsed floor plan and familiar surroundings. And it was my mom that thought to take pictures of every set of walls we lived in so they could be remembered. There are also houses other than those I called home that I still think about. I remember when a grandmother died and her house was being sold. So many of my relatives had already moved from long-time residences. Every time one of them closed the door of a home on their way out, it also closed the door to loved ones visiting there and having physical prompts of memories in that place. There are photographs and mind pictures, but they aren’t the same as standing within and touching the actual walls where the memories happened. So when my grandma’s house was sold, I sadly said “that’s another place I can’t go back to”. The question is, would I really want to go back to any of those places simply for the place? Without the people I love being there, the importance of the place is greatly diminished, if it even exists at all. While it’s interesting to see changes that time and personal taste bring about, I’m quite sure going back to some places would make me sad. Sad because the people dear to me are no longer there, and being there would call attention to the person missed rather than the place. When I imagine the places in my past, the people I love are present in the memories. So I’ve decided that most of the places I may have the opportunity to go back to have no magnetic pull on me. Recently, we were very close to my grandma’s old house, so we did drive past it. What used to be a quaint well cared for home now looks rather tacky with too many lawn ornaments and less flowers. I’d rather remember it the way it was.
We actually had a number of walls in our present home moved while it was remodeled to make it new and improved (see earlier posts in Garage-House/Remodel category), while being the same house we enjoy. The walls of my home keep me safe and comfortable. They hold the things we need to live and a lot of things we’ve wanted and appreciate. We’ve enjoyed the company of many friends and relatives inside the walls of our home. I am grateful for the strength, safety and beauty that walls provide. Life moves us forward. As we add years and relationships change, we move from one set of walls to another, but we keep the memories made within them.
Four walls were there to hold me
To keep me dry and warm.
Four walls were there to
shield me from the storm.
Four walls that did provide
A place to be safe and hide
From dark and scary things
that a nightmare brings.
Seeing the front of it fills me inside
With memories of many times gone by.
Imagining the inside comforts me
And I can hear the sounds of a lullaby.
The house where I grew up
So many years ago
Is much more than wood and nails
Plaster, siding and front rails.
It held hearts of love of those
I‘ve grown to cherish.
Without the memories made there
My past would all but perish.
Stand sturdy old house
That belonged to me
There are new memories to be made
and other faces for you to see.
Give comfort and safety
to those now within,
Life has taken me elsewhere
New chapters in life to begin.