This White House

I was sitting in this house helping my mentor fold clothing and sort toys a while back. We ventured down to the basement in order to grab a few buckets to sort. When I started looking around, I got really sentimental. I thought about the time I moved from our family’s New York townhouse at twelve, a process of unbecoming that I missed because I attended a camp the week we moved out. 

I actively see now all the work that goes into something like moving from one place to another. What kind of memories are stacked inside a home over time? I began to take notice of all the things collected. 

Nerf gun darts were piled by threes in the middle of small giraffe, elephant, and critter figurines. Characters named Turnip, Captain Barnicles, and Kwazii paid their dues, lying dormant on the floor, getting ready to be placed in a box to transcend all dimensions of time like a scene in Toy Story. Boxes of clothing began to pile high and crates of keepsakes were transferred to a home my mentor and her family will now make their own. 

A few weeks ago, I sat on that very kitchen floor on a Thursday night, baby in my lap, drooling on my shoulder. I thought about the numerous memories I built in this home not my own. The numerous amount of memories I’ve been building in homes not my own since the end of college. 

This white house is a place that has felt like home all the same. I learned to love the art of making Mac and Cheese. I sat around a wooden table learning from the people I chose to take company with and let into my life every Monday afternoon and evening for almost two years. 

Could it be that everything I have learned and walked through up to this point lead right back to here? Home? Placing roots somewhere, where I would otherwise like to run away? 

On Thursday nights, I’d pile the boy’s into their room, where I would read Hardy Boys Mysteries and Transformers Storybooks, lulling them to sleep by the sound of my voice. After everyone was asleep, I’d sit at the piano with the quiet air surrounding me, clunking out sounds and making up words to a song that still needs lyrics. On Monday’s, Kristal and I would take turns stirring cheese inside a deep pan on the stove, and after dinner, laughter would reverberate on walls inside a small living room with windows lining three walls.

I keep thinking: It won’t be the same moving forward. 

I made comment several weekends ago that so many great memories have been made inside this white house. A friend of mine said that there will be more. 

I think that might be the beauty of building a home; of living inside buildings that have been lived and loved in a thousand times over. Years and years of life circling around it and yet, this structure has one purpose: to stand still. Homes watch everything around it appear, disappear, and appear again as time moves on; and with that time go the people who reside there. 

My friend had a really simple, yet transformative point: Even when a season ends, the memories that happened there don’t end with it, a new cycle of memories begin.

I began asking questions of the people around me. What kinds of toys did you like to play with and why? I got a plethora of replies from that of skateboards, rocks, furbies polly pockets, American girl dolls, Betty Crocker cookers, and barbies. 

One of the stories behind these toys hit me hard because of the intentionality I had put into the conversation one night. I walked inside, later than usual on a Saturday. Instead of going right to my room, I intentionally plopped myself down on the couch and started talking. 

The half hour long conversation that ensued was that of small town feelings that are often portrayed in television shows and movies. We talked about the type of memories that are built inside of a home over time — that of family, belonging, and purpose all the same. We talked about the dreams that live and die in the four walls of a home. The memories that build and construct up the mundane pieces of life. 

As time continues to turn and turn again, reverberating between the atoms of space, I see the nuances of God’s heart in taking root and learning to stay put. 

As I watch and take part in this white house transforming from one place of memory to the next, a friend of mine is gearing up for a new life starting soon with her fiancé. As her cousin and I bought gifts from her registry this past weekend, we noted together how there is no way anyone can start building a home or a life of memories big and small alone.

It only takes a village