When you think about your first home, or your hometown, you think about more than just a place. It’s memories, people, and life that happened there.
When I was six, I loved my first Ricky. We told each other things we’d never have told our parents or my brothers. He lived next door and was the only boy I wasn’t related to invited to my birthday parties.
At my seventh, he gave me a box of tiny soaps shaped like hearts with flower patterns on them. They’re underneath my sink, still in the original packaging only opened to gently touch and smell them once in a while.
“Can I tell you something?”
I looked up at my not-so-little little boy. His face gives him away.
This is A Big Something.
“Always,” I say.
“Well, I asked Lisa* if I could kiss her on the playground.”
“She said no,” he said. “But she let me kiss her shoe.”
“Oh,” I said, afraid to say, or ask, more. How, exactly, had this gone down? Did she say “No, but you can kiss my shoe?”
Did he ask whether he could kiss her shoe?
I was proud he’d asked permission to kiss her but was thinking about the fact he’d kissed her shoe. Shoes are gross and full of germs and wormguts.
Later that night, I wondered about my seven-year-old son and Lisa from school. Maybe he loved her the way I loved Ricky. I reminded myself to be careful, to not dismiss his feelings as a fleeting baby-crush.
I reminded myself how devastated I was when Ricky moved away. How when my family moved later that year from my very first home, I sat in our special spot behind the bushes, crushed Juniper berries between my thumb and finger and said goodbye to the times with him I’d cherished there.
As a teen, I couldn’t wait to leave home for college. Probably, a lot of that had to do with the fact that my dad was then married to Jane the Jerk.
I left, and went to California where I spent the year talking about how amazing Colorado was. I don’t think I’d appreciated my hometown until I lived away from it.
We travel there, at least once each year.
Only recently has my son been more interested in my home as a child, and so I drive him to my elementary school, my junior high, my high school.
I tell him stories about how his uncles and I got in trouble for riding a homemade Go Cart down our driveway into the street.
This year, I took him and my husband to the house I grew up in. I’ve taken them there before, but have never knocked on the door. I was ready to say who I was, and was hoping for the offer of a tour.
Nobody was home though, and I took my son around the yard while my husband shouted from the car that it wasn’t cool to be walking around the yard, or peering in windows. “They’re gonna call the cops!” he shouted. Nobody did.
My family’s move away from Ricky’s old house to our new one was only about a 12-minute drive but it meant a new home, a new school, a new town. We moved in before the house was ready and so the five of us slept in what would become the playroom.
The floors were plywood, the walls unfinished. The only working bathroom in the house was in what would be my room. There was no door.
It didn’t suck for my brothers and me. While I’m sure my parents didn’t love having people hammering and hanging drywall while we ate take-out, us kids knew adventure and danger. There was exposed Pink Panther insulation that looked like cotton candy but held promises of unparalleled rashes and pain if we dared play in it.
That home became what I’ll always think of as where I’m from.
Later, when my dad sold it, no longer needing bedrooms for grown children, we sat on the floor with pizza boxes, swapping stories.
We talked about our long-ago mud fight in the then-unfinished back yard on Easter Sunday, still in our fancy clothes. It had rained, and the yard was an enormous mud lake.
“Go ahead,” my parents said. We jumped and slid and slung mud balls at one another until we were covered.
We stripped, and my dad hosed us off with freezing water. We ran screeching into the house to baths and showers that by then, had drywall and tile around them. It’s one of my favorite memories. I should ask my mom if she has any photos of that afternoon.
My hometown is in Colorado. It will always be in me, and parts of me will always be of it.
But today, I am also of a home made here, in the suburbs of DC. It’s where my son was born, and where one day, he’ll maybe take his children to see his elementary school, or the field where he played his first flag football game.
Maybe he’ll take them to The President’s Hospital, where he was born. Or, maybe we’ll move to another town or to another state, and that place will be the one that he thinks of as where he’s from.
Either way, as long as we’re together, I am home.
*Lisa is not her real name
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “My home town…” Feel free to write about where you’re from, where you wish you were from, a memory of home, growing up, or anything else that comes to you as you think of your home town.