Tuesday, May 27, 2014


My parents just put my childhood home up for sale.  There was a lot of fanfare leading up to this event.  Besides the purchase of a smaller condo and all its renovations, there was a garage sale, and emails out to family members outlining which furnishings were up for grabs.  While I'm thrilled to receive a part of my old bedroom set, including a gorgeous standing mirror, I can't help but be sad about it.  Today, I was running around doing errands and while I was in the car a song called 'Home' came on the radio that hit home, no pun intended.  It was like one of those weird moments, when I was precisely thinking about my house in Toronto, trying to untangle the complicated feelings involved - was I sad, or was this a non-event that I was being melodramatic about? - and then suddenly this song just filled the car.  The lyrics, like most songs about "home" were pretty consistent.  The song is beautifully sung by Gabrielle Aplin, the lyrics profound, if not a little haunting and the chorus was as follows:

'Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone
Is where you go when you're alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It's not just where you lay your head
It's not just where you make your bed
As long as we're together, does it matter where we go?
Home home home home

And then there's the fun, sing-a-long song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, also called 'Home', and it's chorus runs on a similar theme:

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I'm alone with you

Basically, I'm aware that a house is really just a huge pile of organized bricks, divided into rooms, slapped with a little paint and a roof overtop that keeps the rain out and the heat in.  And without the people in it, it's not much of anything at all.  But I can't help but feel nostalgic about my house.  I was about four years old when we moved into the house and the memories attached to it are both meaningful and plenty.  I remember being woken up the morning my mother went to the hospital to give birth and being told that she was bringing home not one, but two babies, one for each of her girls.  Indeed, my sister and I both stood before these brand new bundles of joy and decided between us which one we wanted.  'My baby' was my responsibility - brilliant move on my mother's part - and every time there was a wail coming from their room, my sister and I bolted up the stairs to determine which of 'our babies' was in distress and why.  It was the house where I learned to play the piano and fell in love with classical music, and where my mother taught me how to cook and bake.  

I remember crouching at the top of the stairs way past my bedtime when my mother threw my father a surprise 30th birthday party (I was 7 and I remember it well...) and watching him walk in carrying a bag of milk while everyone yelled, "Surprise!"  It's the house where I babysat my brothers when my parents went out for dinner and I had to kick their master bedroom door down when one of my brothers (who shall remain nameless...) locked himself in there and started playing with matches.  It's the heavily sloped driveway attached to the house that I had to learn to back out of right after getting my license, and that same driveway that my siblings and I sledded down after a heavy snowfall, screaming with glee until we thudded unto the garage door.  It's the house where we had bunnies, one of which escaped and chewed through all the phone and electrical wires.  It's where I shared room with my sister - sometimes happily and sometimes under war-like conditions (for a couple of months there was a thick strip of duct tape stuck to the floor of our room dividing it in two no-so-equal halves.  She had control of the closet, I had control of the windows and blinds.).  It's the house where we dug a pool in the backyard the summer I turned sixteen and spent all summers until I moved out wrinkled like a prune.  It's the front porch where I spent most spring and summer Shabbat afternoons sitting on the swing, reading my book and watching the planes that flew over the house at three-minute intervals, while my father snored on the chair next to me.  It's the house that I brought my boyfriend to, to meet my parents for the first time.  And it's the backyard where we had our engagement party.

I'm sure that my siblings have their own fair share of memories that differ from mine about our house.  I don't know if it's because I've lived so far away from my childhood home for over twenty years, but when I visit, which is rather infrequently, so many of those memories flood through me the minute I hoist my suitcases up the steps and walk through the front door.  I know the memories will always be with me, in my mind, but it wonder if they'll fade over time since I no longer have a place to associate them with.

So while I still understand that a true home is where my heart is - with my family and loved ones - my childhood home is not just a pile of bricks and mortar either.  It's like a sponge, soaking in the laughter, the tears and all the major and not-so-major events that were experienced within its walls in the over-two decades that we inhabited it.

My parents, who are moving to a condo nearby, will be making this new organized pile of bricks into their home, with new and different memories to fill it with.  Hopefully, on my next visit, I'll have some new memories to store along with the older ones....

Mom and Dad, this (from Phillip Phillips) is for you:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written. I felt a lump on my throat as I read it. We are moving with very many mixed feelings both sad and excited. Chavi, you and your family, as well as all our other kids, will start new memories and good times in our new condo!