I have lived in the same house since before I was born.
My mother and father moved to our home two days before I decided I was ready to join the party. They slept on the floor together for two nights, the last nights they would ever spend without a child, and then they returned a few days later with me.
There was nothing in this house the week I was born except three people and a lot of love.
22 years later, everything I have ever known is in this house, including everyone I love.
The amount of stuff you accumulate over twenty years is astounding. Even more astounding is the fact that every item you save has a memory.
Today, my father brought me ten boxes that would have to fit 22 years of life.
Overwhelmed and anxious, I did the only thing I could do: I packed.
I swept the stuffed animals from the top of my armoire, my Kente bear and the teddy bear my best friend gave me for my ninth birthday. I pulled my American Girl dolls down from their perch and laid them down to sleep. My softball trophies were boxed away with colorful visors and game balls from my athletic days. I unplugged my first Mickey Mouse telephone.
I packaged four years of undergraduate books into a box I can’t lift by myself and stacked my movie collection beside them. I discarded years of preteen jewelry, gaudy but affordable trinkets that I spent my allowances on. I collected what memories I could find from UVA in a book.
I emptied drawer after drawer, polished every surface, filled black bags with what I could bear to part with.
Despite what I may have thought four years ago, I lifted a bag filled with long broken promises and tokens of a so-called love into the trash without a second glance. And it felt good to let that go because this place of comfort was also where my heart broke so many times. In this room, I hid away when I lost grandparent number 1, number 2 and number 3. It was where I crawled to when I failed. It was where I dreamed about drifting to sleep and never waking up and then teaching myself why I should open my eyes every morning.
I have never belonged anywhere but here.
I picked out my furniture when I was ten years old.
I decided that I was a grown up and that I merited a grown up furniture set.
The beautiful, huge, dark set of bedroom furniture I had selected was too large to fit comfortably in my small room, but it made me feel like such an adult. I did my homework at my new desk and decorated the blank spaces with stuffed animals who I still loved, but felt I could no longer sleep with. I painted the walls blue and sprawled out on my huge new bed.
At ten years old, my room was absolutely perfectly me.
And because I haven’t changed much in 12 years, neither has my room. I’ve only added, never subtracting, to my ten year old self’s vision.
I have lived in the same house since before I was born. Even when I lived away at school, it was always with the knowledge that this was home. My home is a place apart now, and I’ll take what I can of my ten year old self, because I think she’d enjoy this beautiful disaster.