…Welcome Home

I want to take you somewhere very special to me. Most of my friends have never been here, but they’ve heard a lot about it.

This is a magical place. It’s the place where my parents met and fell in love. It’s the place where I spent my whole life until I was five, and most weekends and holidays until I was 17. It’s the place where my imagination took flight, and I truly learned to dance.

No matter where I go, or how much time passes, this place is a constant.

This is my parents’ house.

It’s changed over the years. There used to be a giant pear tree in that grassy space. It dropped hundreds of tiny red pears every summer, and the wasps would cluster on them, feeding happily. My brother and I used to munch on the fallen (and wasp-free) fruit, and my mom made them into cakes. Whenever I taste a really ripe pear, I remember that tree.

This used to be a hill we sledded on in winter and rolled down in the summer. Of all the changes my parents’ house as seen, this one still catches me off guard. Don’t get me wrong, the terraced gardens are beautiful. It’s just a little weird to me. Xander will never know what it’s like to play on this particular hill.

Some changes are just the product of passing years. We built this treehouse when I was about 12. My dad built the actual platform, and we helped nail up footholds on the tree trunks so we could climb up. When I see it now, it makes me realize how long ago that was. Now I have a little one of my own. Someday I want to help Xander make a treehouse. Maybe in this tree, if it’s still standing.

But not everything has changed. In fact, so much more of this magical place has stayed the same…

This is the living room. This is where I danced. Starting when I was 3 or 4, I would put music on the record player almost every day, and this room became my stage. I’ve been a fairy, a princess, a goddess, a monk, a pirate, a fisherman’s wife, and a gypsy in this room…all depending on my mood and what music I chose.

So little of this room has changed. The furniture’s been reupholstered, but every piece of it strikes a chord of memory. I know every inch of it. The grandfather clock you see there? His name is Henry, and he’s about 150 years old. His chimes marked the hours of every day I spent here.

Oh, and that GIANT pile of Duplo? That’s the same Duplo that my brother and I played with. It’s Xander’s favourite thing in the world. I recall it being one of my favourite things too.

The kitchen is one of the hearts of the house. And it never changes. The spices are lined up in the same order. The counter is always cluttered. And these same coffee cans have been holding the same utensils as long as I can remember. OK, some of the spatulas and spoons are new. But most of them? As old as me.

Every time I see that wooden kitchen countertop, I remember rolling out cookies and pies. My friend Marsha and I were in charge of making the gingerbread Christmas cookies for a year or two there. Every time I make them at home for my family, I think of that.

And here’s Easter dinner. Lamb. Potatoes. Veggies. Wine. Always. See those hot cross buns in the background? Made by my mom, and always the same.

I could go on and on…there are so many wonderful corners in this house, and each one has a memory.

But here…here is where the magic really happened. And where time stands still:

This is The Shore. I know every rock on it. I know the view by heart. I know the sound, the smell, the feel, and the taste of it. It’s imprinted on my memory and burned into my imagination, because this is where I really learned to “make believe.”

Here princesses were kidnapped by pirates, “fish” were caught (it was seaweed), and restaurants were operated.

Here forts were built, beach glass was collected, and sandfleas were disturbed. And many, many rocks were thrown into the water.

In my teens and twenties, I forgot how to appreciate this place. I avoided it. I thought it was boring, and going there just got in the way of ballet classes and studying. But now when I come back here…it’s like visiting what’s at the heart of ME, that part deep inside that is unshaken and unshakable and constant, no matter what life throws at me and no matter how much my outside changes. For a long time I forgot that part of me existed, but going home reminds me, lets me see it face to face…

…and it’s amazing.

Do you have a place like this? When was the last time you went back?

11 thoughts on “…Welcome Home”

  1. Great post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your parents’ place is awesome. I loved it there the one time I got to visit. It must have been so great to grow up on the shore like that. What a wonderful place to bring Xander to, and share all your memories with him.

    (I get sad when I think about my parents’ plans to leave their home in the next few years. I wish my kids had a special place to go back to filled with my memories to share with them. Oh, well. For now, they will have Chris’s mom’s place, at least.)

      1. Thanks. And I’m sorry? ๐Ÿ˜› (Meg, this will be for you, too.)

        The thing is, I have a love-hate relationship with that place, and I know my mom does too. For me, moving there is the moment that ended my childhood in my mind. We were so isolated there, and after living in a subdivision and being able to play with friends every day after school and ride my bike on the smooth roads, I found the adjustment to that house challenging. Why ride my bike anymore when there was no one to ride with and nowhere to go, and the roads are all bumpy? So, I stopped. And, despite what “they” say, I DON’T remember how to anymore. I became more introverted and much less active. Stopped “playing” altogether. These things don’t sadden me, but I’m not sure they were for the best, you know? It is what it is. I adapted. But I never liked that whole “living in the country” thing: not being able to call my friends in high school ’cause everyone was long distance, trudging up the driveway with loads of groceries in the winter because it was too icy or snowy to drive up, short showers and stained white clothes because of wells. And did I mention isolation? Yeah, that. I do not ever want to live that way again, despite my husband’s wishes.

        Anyway, my mom always felt like moving there was a mistake of sorts. Besides the things I mentioned, it was always too much of a house for them and we were “house poor”. They’ve never been able to afford to keep it up properly, hence the carpets are still the 1987 originals and paint is chipping and there’s unrepaired damage from poor roof design (the previous owner designed it herself, and was no architect), etc., etc. It’s embarrassing to her and to me, too. And unsafe for my kids, really. I’m sure the railings on the stairways and the balcony are definitely not up to code, for example.

        And yet, and yet… I DID spend most of my growing-up years there, and it is “home”. So my kids will miss out, kinda. But it will be okay. Mom and Dad are also moving because they intend to go overseas for Dad to teach somewhere after they both retire, and I certainly can’t blame them for wanting that adventure. They’ve only been able to travel in the past five years (again, because of being “house poor”) and they deserve to enjoy their healthy years however they want and not be tied down to that house. I’m excited for them!

        (Sorry for the novel.)

        1. Hmm…OK, I can see how that house was a definite mixed blessing. Like our Prospect house only way more so.
          Really fun to visit for overnighters, though!

          It sounds like your parents have awesome plans! That’s really exciting! ๐Ÿ˜€

          (and never apologize for long comments! Long comments are great! xox)

    1. Up until the last 2 visits, we really didn’t appreciate the awesomeness that that place can provide for Xander. That’s probably because he couldn’t really walk o the rocks and he had to be carried everywhere. Now he’s in heaven down there apart from the bugs. It’s fantastic!

      I’m sad your parents are leaving that house! *I* have lots of great memories from it, and I’ve only been around for the past decade!

  2. This has me in tears, Meg. With how much love you describe your special place and notice every little change.
    I have moved several times with my parents during childhood and my parents sold the last house we lived in together many years ago. So for me there is no going back. Still there are alot of special places I can go back to in my memory, including a special hill I would roll down in summer and skate down in winter:)
    Thank you for helping me to remember.
    Sending you rainbowsparkles.

  3. The woods behind my parent’s house. There are sacred places back there, and I used to disappear for hours at a time exploring, and imagining. I didn’t know it at the time, but those woods shaped my belief system, and whenever I’m told to imagine somewhere where I feel safe and calm, I think of there. I think the last time I was back there was the last time I had to make a huge decision that would forever change the course of my life. That was just over 7 years ago. I meant to take some time the last time I was home to do some exploring with Violet, (now that she’s old enough) but the black flies were so bad we had to stay indoors. Next time!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that, Corinne!
      Let’s see…7 years ago…
      Yes, that place is a big deal. And I bet Violet (when armed with a cubic foot of bug spray) will LOVE it.

  4. This couldn’t have come at a better time, Meg. My family is in the process of clearing out my great aunt’s house; she died in March, and the house will be on the market soon. I had visited that house since I was born, lying on the living room floor with my aunt during sleepovers, picking tomatoes in the backyard garden, dancing outside on the sprawling lawn, dressing myself in my aunt’s costume jewelry upstairs, hiding behind the racks of clothes hanging in the basement…so many memories live in that house, and it’s sad to know I’ll never smell its smells or feel its textures ever again. I’m so glad you have “made up” with your favorite place and are friends again. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. We really are friends again! Although I could do without the ARMIES OF BLACKFLIES.
      I’m sorry you have to say goodbye to a place that’s so important to you. Those are such beautiful, glowing memories, I can tell.
      It’s part of growing up, isn’t it? I’ve said goodbye to a few other places, and it just SUCKS.

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