I’m sitting on my back patio looking out across my yard. The sunshine is warm on my face, it’s rays soaking into the layers of my clothes. It’s windy out , a warmer afternoon in November and I am reminded of sitting on the patio of my childhood home. I wonder in this moment about the strong attachments like that to my childhood home. The stronger attachments to places are memories that never fade and I keep them closer to my heart.
Why do I remember certain places with aw, love and wonderful memories and others with a certain level of happiness and a smaller level of attachment? Perhaps because a substantial amount of growing has occurred for me in each place. Or perhaps these certain places left such a heavy imprint that it would be silly to let the attachments go. The process is usually the same. I acclimate myself, the space becomes comfortable and my own, memories begin to be made by experiences and the bond settles in.
When I moved to Spain last summer to live with my fiancé it was very hard to say goodbye to our home there. Not necessarily for the house itself but more for the aesthetic experiences. I can still take myself back there in memory. Reliving the sounds of the neighborhood, the language, the short walk on the boardwalk to the beach, sitting on our back patio and the smell of tapas cooking in the town square. The food was good and very inexpensive. There was so much hope and possibility for us during that time.
My current home is special to me because it is the first house that my husband and I have bought together, a first purchase for both of us. It’s been an exciting time acclimating ourselves to the South and the slower paced living that exists here. With the ups and downs of home-ownership I’ve taken pride in the ways we’ve transformed our living space. Therefore, I’ve become attached in small ways. I’ve made curtains for the front windows, cooked my first Thanksgiving meal, and scraped, painted and spent countless hours at different points mowing our front and backyard.
Mowing amongst other things reminds me of the way my father used to care for the property of our childhood home with pride. When my parents first bought the house in the 1970’s it was a house on a dirt mound. My father transformed the property into a beautiful landscaped oasis. He laid asphalt, planted palm trees, two gardens, a chicken coop, a beautiful rock wall and concrete steps to both the downstairs door and the front door. My Mom planted flowers and designed the interior of our house. At the end of the driveway was a large oak tree with a tire swing. It was our heaven and we were all attached. It was quiet too, in the country away from the main roads that led into town. We knew our home was lovely and knew more so when the time came for my parents to sell it. It was time to move on as they were growing older and could no longer care and invest in the upkeep.
It was very devastating for all of us to see that our beloved house and property burned in the fires that swept through Napa and Sonoma Counties this past September. We were crushed. So many people lost their homes, everything that helped them to feel secure and grounded and attached. Their heaven swept away into the night by intense fire, heat and wind. My sister who visited a few weeks ago, mentioned that the chimney survived as did the tire swing and of course the beloved rock wall. Through the ash and destruction all of our hand prints still remain in the cement from when my Dad first laid it all those years ago. While the new owners will re build, it will never be the same for us in person. I, however, still find myself gravitated back there remembering what a fine place it was to grow up. The warm sunshine that enveloped us as we lay in front of the living room window, the sound of the birds in the morning, the wind moving through and over top the shingles of the roof, the way the light hit the trees as I drove up the driveway. Hiking with my Dad, sister’s, friends near the creek. It’s a piece of heaven that take with me always.
All of the hours both my parents spent caring for our property and house gave us something to hold on to and became a part of each of us. It helped us all to feel grounded and safe. I believe that is what homes do. This is why, I believe, attachments to homes we’ve lived in run so deep. They’ve made us who we are today.