A few weeks ago, we drove by my old house. I moved during my second year of high school and during that time, I didn’t think too much about it, but nowadays, I wonder what my old house looks like from the inside. I wonder who is sleeping in my old room. I wonder what that family is like – if they are anything like my family.
In the weeks before my move, I watched passively and nonchalantly as my belongings were packed up into boxes and transported to my new house. I remember our hot water pipes failing in the last week and we had to shower at our neighbour’s house. I went to bed that night looking at my window and the big hill that stretched beyond it, thinking that tomorrow, I’ll have a new view outside my window.
I was sixteen – a big girl. I can deal with a new room, a new house. It could be exciting, even. Maybe I’d get to paint my room pink and have my room arranged exactly how I wanted it (didn’t happen, but that’s ok).
I moved houses, and that was that. I moved on with my life – graduated high school, started attending university, started working, made new friends, kept some old ones – life stuff, you know?
But when I see my old house, I remember stuff. I look at the white balcony and remember doing tai-chi exercises with my aunt and grandma – the one time they ever came to visit us in Canada. I look at the crappy fence and remember that one summer when we camped in our backyards, and then the next night a bear broke it down. I look at the garage doors and remember our neighbourhood’s annual garage sale – where I got my first Barbie house.
If there is a little girl living in my house, sleeping in my room, I’d want her to know. This is the room where I cried because I got a B on my report card in fourth grade. This is the kitchen where my sister and I became sushi-rolling extraordinaires. This is the living room where my mom used to babysit eight babies at once. This is the washroom where I used to have bubble baths. This is the basement my dad renovated all by himself. This is the house a small immigrant family lived in for over ten years.
And I would tell her that if one day, her family decided to move, she should do more than just go to bed and look out the window for a few seconds. She should treasure that house more and the moments and memories that come with it.
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
this brokenness inside me might start healing.
Out here its like I’m someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself.
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave.
Won’t take nothing but a memory
from the house that built me.
– Miranda Lambert, The House that Built Me