I have returned to college. It was great to reconnect with The View, and have our usual tea party again. I had missed that a lot. But, it was a good break too. I was glad to stay with my grandparents (the ones who didn’t understand the pronoun thing.) It was a bit sad too, though. While I was home visiting, I got to see my grandparents’ new house. They had lived in the old house over twenty years. My childhood was spent in that house. My mother grew up in that house. My freaking cat is buried under one of the trees that is at that house! I mean, I have so many memories of that place. But, you know, it hadn’t hit me when I saw their new house. We went to go visit my great-grandmother’s house that was right next door. This house was also a big part of my childhood. So, as we drove past Pappy’s old house where we used to have our Christmases and our family dinners and our warm summer crab feasts (even though I hate crabs!!), I was not too upset. It wasn’t until we came to Grandma and Pop’s house that it hit me.
Pappy had us (my siblings and I) walk around the house, going into every room to check for leaks from the weather. As we wandered around, I was filled with this sense of loss, almost. Like, as soon as I walked through the door of that house, I smelled that smell. You know, that smell, the musty smell but it’s a warm smell. It’s familiar and beautiful and you have known it since you were born. To others, it probably just smells like an unused, moth-ball infested, dank house. To me…to me, it is memories. It is Grandma in the kitchen, cooking us God knows what. It is Pop sleeping in the living room with a Yankees game on. It is my cousin and I playing house and dress-up in the guest room. It is digging around in the cellar, collecting all the potatoes Grandma had planted there. It is the warmth of the old cat they used to have, that rubbed up against me, purring. It is my uncles and I playing basketball by the barn right next to the house with that old, wire rim someone had surely made themselves. It is the wind in my ears on a long summer day, while I am swinging from the swing that Pappy made which used to be hanging from that crazy-looking tree. It is the taste of honeysuckle on my tongue, giggling with my uncles on hot, sunny days. It is the excitement I felt when the whole family would go outside to play kick-the-can, and the hope that I had that maybe this time I would win! It is the image of Grandma leaning over and picking flowers in the backyard, and the feel of the cow’s tag between my fingers (which someone told me was a fancy cow earring.) It is the fun, it is the laughter, it is the love. That smell. And, so as my sister and I sat in Pappy’s truck while my brother and he finished something, through the snow flurries rushing by the window in front of my face, I gazed at that old, broken home. I thought of these things and I thought of my family and how so much has changed. I thought of the happiness and the love and the wonderful things that we did there. Little things. Images. They flashed before me as I sat there, cold and shivering. I looked at the house. The swing connected to the tree is gone. The chicken coop where we would sometimes hide in during a great game of hide-and-seek, is gone. The barns where we would explore and have to be very careful of snakes, were sagging. The basketball hoop was missing. The honeysuckle bushes that used to climb up the fence like ivy were long dead. The cows had been sold a long time ago. The flowers were gray and brittle. The house itself was sad. And yet, I could think of nothing but what it had been like when people had lived there. It was beautiful. It was then that I realized how lucky I had been and how I should have appreciated it more.