Twenty four years ago today, I was two years old and was moving into a new home with my family in Brooklyn, New York. August eighth comes again; this time, I’m living elsewhere (in a small town in Massachusetts), contemplating the meaning of a childhood home, feeling both distant from and near to the child and teenager I once was.
When one remembers home, often it is the family and ourselves that come to mind. And somehow the home itself becomes a part of the family in a way that can feel fragile and irreplaceable.
This past weekend, I visited that childhood home where my mother lives now and felt the familiar feeling of home over the years coming to me.
I sat at the kitchen table on a Sunday morning and wrote about how it felt homelike with my mom awakening upstairs, the cats wandering around and the dog asleep in his bed, a candle lit at the center of the table. It felt homelike with the floral patterned porcelain tea cups I always drank from, the sounds of cicadas in the trees, and the sunlight streaming through the backdoor blinds.
Even though I’m no longer swinging on the red swing set in the backyard with my sister, and the swing set is long gone, I could consciously conjure up the feeling of my childhood. Still the same home, it was quiet and peaceful, different from how it was when there were so many dolls, board games, and toys, and the swimming pool was full of floats and family come July.
Sometimes the memory of myself comes to me strongly when I visit. The memories of being more selfish and immature than I may be now, playing quiet music loudly on some early mornings while my mom and sister were still asleep, and not wanting to have dinner when it was ready after my mom worked very hard to prepare it because I was excited about some other thing, and other times, nagging her every five minutes to see if it was almost ready. Now I try to accept all of me, the me I was and am now, without losing myself in what is past.
I consciously remember feeling safe and cradled in a way in my own bedroom, meditating in the mornings with my cat, Sugar, purring at the foot of my bed, and discovering Classical music for the first time, Bach’s flute sonatas ringing throughout the spacious room. It was that barefoot feeling I loved, wanting so much to stay at home, and not feeling like I craved going out.
As I write, I think of the place as it was, a place that was mostly happy with some sadness, that remained similar throughout the years, and changed as I did.
So, happy twenty fourth anniversary to my childhood home!
Feel free to share your own memories of your childhood home or thoughts of home in the comments section.