It's been over 13 years since I last lived at home, in this house.
I don't feel like I live here anymore, exactly. But then I hear the linen closet door creak the same creak it always has and suddenly I'm 12 again. A sudden glimpse of something in my childhood room or the smell when I walk inside the door brings me right back again. I know exactly what to expect when I sit on a certain chair or walk into a room. That intimate familiarity with a house, a connection so comforting, so grounding.
I feel it when I find the fresh flowers waiting in my room every time I come home. When dad changes after work and mom irons the sheets. It's knowing that the tylenol is in the 'waffle iron cupboard' and instinctively stepping over where the cracks on the driveway used to be. It's expecting to find Carmella - our long gone cat - to be around the corner, or hiding under my bed. It's still being scared of the basement after dark, and wondering why a piece of furniture isn't where it was 15 years ago.
It's the contentment that descends with my plane and the peace that settles deep in my bones as I walk up the front steps. This house contains my history, it's the place in which I became me. I belong to that house, and it belongs to me.
I can remember pretty much all of the so-called mundane details of my childhood, an 8 track movie played on demand. But when I'm at home there is a soundtrack. When I'm home my memories are in HD.
Now Anna is at home with me and the house becomes my past, but our present. I watch her play with my old toys, dressing her doll in my doll clothes. She plays on new playground equipment but in the same park. I teach her to play pinball and grandpa shows her air hockey. She runs through the sprinkler in the summer and sleds on the same hill in the winter. I watch her treading a path up and down the stairs to the family room that I have walked thousands of times, grateful for this simple gift, this continuity. I witness her making her own memories, memories reflecting mine, but shiny and new.
I used to tell my parents that I wanted to buy this house from them when I grew up. Circumstances have changed but the sentiment remains. It's a reflection of how happy I have been here, how happy they have made me. In this house that is my home.