The House That Built Me

I don’t know how many of you enjoy country music, but it’s a genre that I learned to love by seventh grade and still listen to quite often. Three of the six presets for my car radio are country stations. (The others are pop, easy listening, and Christian.) Anyway, a while back, Miranda Lambert came out with this song called The House That Built Me. I have to say, I really like it.

Anyone who has grown up in a house then moved away from it knows how it feels to have all your memories of childhood, of figuring out who you are becoming (at least to some degree), wrapped up in a place. A place that can’t help but flood you with waves of memories in every room.
I had two houses like that. I kind of see them as a first childhood and second childhood home. The first home was in River Cove (don’t worry, pretty much none of you will know where that is unless you’re from Covington, GA). It was built by my parents when I was a baby, and we lived there until I was 13. I loved that house. It was set in the middle of 9 acres of woods, with a big front and back yard. It was no uncommon occurrence to find deer on our property…or frogs, lizards, snakes or opossums or any other number or wild animals. I didn’t mind the deer.
We have had dogs since I was two years old, and each of the four kids got to have a cat. Actually, just my brother Jordan and I had cats, but those two had a big litter of kittens, so my other brother, Jonathan, and my sister, Kristen, got to pick one each. We gave the rest away. We also picked up a number of stray cats over the years. As an animal lover, I would often go straight to the big backyard after school and plunk down. All of our pets would come over for me to pet them and talk to them about my day (yes, I talked to animals and still do). Jonathan still says he wouldn’t have been surprised if birds just started to fly down and land on me, the way the animals just knew to come to me in the yard. All of my little girl memories are wrapped up in that house. I even went back with Tom in college. They let me walk him around and show him the places where all the childhood stories he had heard about me had occurred.

When we moved, it was at a tough age. Thirteen is just not the most fun age. And we moved houses, schools, and (for a short while) churches all at the same time. UGH. When I think of the second house of my childhood, it’s not actually the house we moved to. I certainly DO have lots of memories in that house. But my parents still live there, so I suppose I’m not quite as nostalgic about it.
The second home of my “childhood” is actually Tom’s parents’ old house. They lived in Covington on a 10-acre plot with bradford pear trees lining the driveway. His paternal grandmother and one of his great aunts also had houses on the property. It is just down the road from their church and from where his maternal grandmother and aunt and uncles’ houses are, so we pass this property when we go to visit them. The pear trees have gotten huge, and it’s so weird to think of other people driving up that driveway and thinking of that house as their home.

River Cove Road, the road we lived off of growing up. You can see how wooded and spread out the properties were. We loved that.

The McFarlins put a swimming pool in when we were in high school. Being so close to the church, we would often go to their house after youth group to swim and watch movies. In the summer, all of our friends basically lived there. We were always going there to swim, watch movies, light firecrackers, jam on instruments, eat, and hang out. It was THE place that all of our friends congregated (besides our friend Will’s grandma’s house, but that’s a whole other post). So, when they moved, I was sad. I love where they are now. It’s actually closer to my parents’ house. But the old property is still where I think of them being sometimes and have to occasionally remind myself that they’ve moved from there when driving to see them for a visit.

This is the property Tom grew up on.

When I think back on those homes, it makes me wonder how our kids will look back on this house. It’s the first house we ever bought, and it’s the house we’ll raise our kids in, at least for the first 9 to 11 years of their lives (for the oldest, anyway). When we work in the yard, I wonder how it will be when there are little feet trampling the grass and young voices ringing with laughter. When I think of clearing out the bedroom full of junk upstairs, I imagine it with a crib. I sometimes will go into a daze thinking about how we will transition the rooms as the kids grow up. It’s not that I am dying to be pregnant right now. It’s just knowing that this house will be a house of memories for people that don’t even exist yet…it’s pretty awesome. I just hope they look back on this house as a home with wonderful memories.

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