This is Home

The walls that were once white are smudged with red and white candy cane from small and sticky hands. Powder from broken drywall speckles the floor underneath the jagged holes; the stories of how they came to be are long forgotten.

Chairs are broken and patched together, many come and go but one remains: the chair with the narrow slits in the back, through which my mother had her elbows and knees wedged painfully at the house in Randolph when she was a little girl. Bare board shows through the linoleum, the layers scrapped off by screaming children breaking in new socks and careening about in reckless fashion on rollerblades.

This is my childhood Northampton home. 48 Pine Brook Curve. Where my seven brothers and I grew up.

Through the years, the faded blue siding has taken on as much personality as the occupants within. If you listen closely you can almost hear the squeaking floor whispering its secrets, barely audible above the distant roar of trucks passing by on the interstate.

There is little order or perfection within the thick walls, but somehow everything seems content within its place. I will always remember the hot summer nights without air conditioning, choosing to sleep on the floor instead of the bed because of the temperature.

Nor will I forget when the chainsaws dutifully whined their complaint against fallen timber for days on end after the tornado; I slept in the living room for a week because of the danger of more trees crashing down. I remember falling asleep to the drone of the box fan in the window, listening to stories about Freddy the Pig and his hilarious adventures.

Almost fondly I remember the feeling of Legos, loose from the massive pile, digging viciously into the bottom of my foot.

Babies rotated through the door, the small bell jingling in a merry way, almost as quickly as the food disappeared. Ten pounds of potatoes was an average meal. That morning when I heard through the static of the radio that America had been attacked, I sat on the blue carpet stairs in front of the Legos and cried.

Many hours were purchased in sweat fielding ground balls off of the bat of my brother, attempting to improve upon my baseball skills. Still more hours were passed on quiet afternoons hovering over a heap of paper on the marble table next to the sliding doors, drawing.

Board games inevitably ended in a tumble of pieces and a fury of rage by all parties involved. Myself being the sensitive child, would usually scamper up the stairs to plead my case of injustice to a sympathetic adult. Wednesday evening meant pizza night, when I would pack into the back seat of the family suburban and endure the sweltering heat of the drive to Red Rock Pizza.

I would sit with a slice or two on the back of the tailgate and feel the summer breeze blow through my hair.

Memories such as these are priceless. No amount of money or wealth can replace a distant or non-existent parent. Nothing can fill in for a lack of love.

Against the western culture’s standard of wealth and prosperity, I may have lacked. However, as the years pass I see how fortunate I am to have grown up in such a home, where love and respect are abundant and freely offered.