Once, I asked dad to take me to his boyhood home. We sat there, engine idling. I stared at the siding, the green shutters, the stump in the yard and tried to feel something.
My dad didn’t say much, but I’m sure he felt a lot. He’d grown up there with three brothers, all of them dead; his parents dead. And here’s this house, filled with different people, different stories, entirely different lives.
Now, my wife and I are selling our first house, moving a few miles away to Bellbrook. I keep thinking about the fact that my 2-year-old daughter won’t remember this place.
This is the door we unlocked after our Savannah honeymoon. It’s where we unpacked our luggage and started brand new lives.
This is where we raised our first puppy. This is where that puppy killed a bunny, dragged it through the doggy door, splattered blood all over the carpet. This is where our puppy got worms.
This is where we brought Claire home from the hospital. My wife stenciled white chandeliers on the nursery walls.
On this very carpet, I laid beside our baby and looked down at her face for hours. I saw every detail: the downy hair on her forehead, her Saran Wrap fingernails, the tiny white bumps on her nose.
This is where we brought Percy, too, so much more confident as parents, so unbelievably thankful/lucky/breathless/happy he was healthy, had all his fingers, his toes, his chromosomes.
This is where I learned to caulk tubs, hang gutters, build garden boxes and redo molding. This is where I started my collection of Halloween decorations (my wife’s mandated budget is $25 a year).
This is where I’ll bring my kids one day. We’ll sit there idling, looking up at the gutters where I hung the Christmas lights. I’ll point to the hill where I fell down with the mower. I’ll show them the $3 skyrocket junipers I planted along the fence (they weren’t even a foot tall then).
I’ll know it looks like any other house to them. But there’s a part of us in these walls. The new owners can cover our paint with a hundred different coats. They can remodel the kitchen, knock out a wall. But they can’t erase that we were here. We sang the ABC song under this roof. We opened presents. We read Goodnight Moon. We laughed and cried. We fell asleep and dreamed.