At thirteen, I sat on the front steps of the only place I’d ever called home and closed my eyes. I curled my fingers around the sides of the stone steps, inhaled the scent of the blooming rhododendrons in the yard and hoped more than anything that I could stay. I turned to face the house – the evergreen shingles painted with my father’s brush strokes, the rooms inside where I learned how to read and sing and walk – and wept. There was nothing to compare this kind of feeling to. My parents told us we’d be moving, but it felt like an uprooting,
Eight years later, I sit on wooden steps and will to slow down time once more. In this college house I have grown up all over again. The walls of this home have heard every joyous, painful, important, irreplaceable moment. The bathroom mirror has reflected my tear-stained face back at me – but it’s also big enough to fit three or four girls while we get ready to go out together after a long nap on gameday. Our kitchen floor is big enough for dance parties, and the oven tends to burn our food sometimes. The house is old, the ceiling leaks, and we’re pretty sure there are some furry guests living in the walls. But the house is also one of my favorite places of all time.
In May, I’ll take down the photos from my walls and unpin the tapestry from behind my bed. I’ll scoop my Ohio State t-shirts out of drawers and empty out my overflowing book case. I’ll probably forget which mugs were mine and end up telling my coffee-loving roommates to take their pick. I’ll throw out the rickety desk that I barely ever studied at anyways. And eventually, I’ll leave.
I won’t want to do these things. The cleared out living room and echoing kitchen will certainly be a sore sight on my last day. But by the time I’ve packed it all up, I will have done something important. I will have made space for four more girls to make some of their lives’ best memories. The walls will hear their favorite songs, and the front door will let in their best friends for spontaneous parties after football games. They will laugh, cry, screw up and change together in that house.
I know they’ll love the way the roof is the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset. I know I’ll look back over my shoulder after I’ve locked the door for the last time. But I know something that the thirteen year old on the steps could not have understood just yet. I know that somewhere, in a new place, there is a girl sweeping out an apartment she’s loved and worn to pieces, making space for me.