Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

When you finally go back to your old home, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood.

I took my dog Whiskey for a long walk this morning to explore our new neighborhood. Even though we've been moved into our new home for over a month now, the weather in Houston hasn't really allowed me to go out much (rain, cold yuckiness). But, it has cleared up the last few days and the swelling in my joints is minimal so I couldn't resist. 

The backyard...and Whiskey

I love the outdoors, despite it's potentially negative effects on my health, it makes me feel whole and alive, so for now I will enjoy it as long as I can. In fact, this post is being written on my new back porch. And I feel so at peace. 

Well, as Whiskey and I explored the new "hood" I realized what I loved about it, why I have always been drawn to older suburbs rather than new ones: they remind me of the homes/houses I grew up in. As a military brat I am from "nowhere and everywhere all at once." I have always struggled with the concept of home, because for me, it was always just a "house until"... There was always a set expiration date. I knew we would move, it was not permanent. (For more on this part of my life read my memoir Island of Dreams)

And yet, my parents DID manage to make each house feel like a home. With warm yummy smells, a garden, parties, family and friends, love, religion, comfort and overall happiness. The houses I grew up in were all built in the 60s, 70s and 80s with shag carpet or wood floors, wood paneling (my new house DOES NOT have wood paneling, thank God), gas stoves, large back yards, wire fences, tall 30 year old trees and a lot of quiet. 

The front of the new house!
My new, permanent home is much the same. Sure, it's been remodeled to look new on the inside, but the neighborhood itself feels like a flashback to a much simpler time in my life. I can honestly say that I was blessed with a very happy childhood. We made popsicles in the ice tray during the summer, ate watermelon till we got sick, splashed around with a hose, ate home cooked meals at the dinner table every night, and went on family road trips at least once a year. 

We lived the American dream. I was an extremely healthy child who grew up in a home where my dad worked and my mom stayed home raising the kids until we were all in school. It was quite idyllic. And truthfully, I am thankful for that. 

Me on my 6th or 7th Birthday. 
My childhood may not have given me the life experience to deal with something as big and as life-changing as chronic illness but it did provide me with the support system to do so. My mom gave me faith by taking us to church every Sunday. My father gave me strength by always telling me to just shake it off (when I fell off a bike, or didn't get a part in the play). My sister added color and creativity. My brother showed me resilience and confidence by introducing me to theatre and writing and poetry. Our military life has allowed me to always go with the flow and embrace change. I learned to depend on myself and take care of others by being a latch-key kid who made my brother and sister an after school snack because mami had to work when papi went to war. It wasn't always easy, but it wasn't a childhood that hurt. 

In recent months, I have come to the conclusion that most people either have crappy childhoods and a pretty awesome adult life or a great childhood and a pretty crappy adult life. (Some people get a raw deal on both ends sometimes which is unfortunate) Which, at first made me quite cynical, because after all, adulthood lasts SO MUCH LONGER than childhood, but now, after some deep reflection, I realize that our childhood is what shapes us as a adults. It creates our character and informs our decisions as we get older. 

My favorite room in the house- the library/office
I can't imagine how I might be dealing with chronic illness had I also had an ugly childhood (alcoholism, depression, drugs etc.??) I can say that I am grateful for the ease and joy with which I lived my young days. I reminisce about those days often as it brings me comfort and hope  when I don't know if and when the pain or fatigue will end. I deal with never ending facets of these diseases by praying, meditating, calling my mom, taking care of myself and my husband, and knowing that if simpler times are behind me, I can still believe in simpler times ahead. 

It's quiet here. The sunlight comes in through windows. I hear the train whistle every night and every morning. I cook happily. I clean out of pride. Even though I miss our old townhome, the one where Lupe and I spent our first few years together, it never really felt like my home. I tried very hard to feel at ease there, but I just never could. I believe that living in a house and in a neighborhood that reminds me of simpler, happier times, a home we bought and will build together, will be good for my soul and my overall health. I am hoping that this new house, in this old neighborhood will be the place where Lupe and I can plant our roots and watch our lives grow (in whatever way the Universe intends).  It won't be easy, but I also believe that it won't hurt. 
Closing day...we bought a house!

1 comment:

  1. So happy for you guys. :) Your new home looks fantastic! Now start making some good memories there, k? :D