The House that Built Me

You know what's entertaining after the babies are asleep and you have nothing better to do with your life? Google Maps stalking yourself. There's something so sentimental and nostalgic about looking at all the places you've lived in your life. How they've changed, and how they haven't. The memories that each living space carries with it.

Like the house in California that your Mom and Dad first brought you home to after you were born. Where you lived for the first four years of your life until your parents decided there was too much crime and the cost of living was too high.

Or the one on the shores of Lake Ontario. Where you spent your childhood being pounded by feet upon feet of snow in the harsh winters of Upstate New York. Where your dad built a back porch and flower bed and you learned to ride your bike in the driveway.

Or maybe it's the house you try to forget. The one you moved to when your parents got divorced and your Mom got remarried. The one set back in the woods that was filled with mounted deer heads, and nights of screaming, drunkenness, and abuse.

Or perhaps the one that you only lived in for a year before leaving for college. The one that had a killer sledding hill in the back. The one you never quite got acquainted with, but always represented freedom for you, your Mom and sister.

Or like your first home-away-from-home. The grungy dorm building with the shared bathroom and corkboard walls. The one that housed the campus grill on the first floor and whose popcorn chicken was solely responsible for your freshman year weight gain. The one that held midnight dance parties to Pussycat Dolls and where you talked to your crush back home for four hours.

Like the walk-up apartment building in Philly Chinatown that rested above a bakery that produced X-rated fortune cookies. Where you lived for two months while interning for an HIV/AIDS organization and dealt with crippling reverse culture shock and isolation after your semester abroad in East Africa. Where you had your groceries delivered and ate entire Domino's pizzas by yourself alone in your room.

Or perhaps like your first grown-up second story apartment. The one where you learned how to pay rent for the first time, had a raccoon in your attic, and witnessed more than your fair share of cockroaches. The one that was quite honestly, a gigantic shithole, but will always be the spot where you remember kissing your husband for the first time the night you met.

Or the first apartment you lived in when you loved to the big city for grad school. The one that had a turret and former alley for a yard and backed up against the not-so-nice part of town. The one that was sparsely decorated by will be remembered by its abundance of yummy vegetarian meals made in the newly updated kitchen.

Or your second Pittsburgh apartment that is a solid hour closer to both you and your husband's new employers. The one that doesn't have a bathroom door or any overhead lighting. The one you barely see because you and your new husband are both working two jobs to begin paying off your student loan debt. The one just down the street from the Fro-Yo place that's perfect for cheap dates, and the yoga studio where you sometimes so with your only Pittsburgh friend.

Or the house you rented when you moved back to your husband's hometown. The one that came with the sucky landlord, but allowed you to plant sunflowers and was just steps away from the park. The one with the tiny kitchen and bathroom. But the one where you brought home your first, sweet baby boy.

And finally, the one you bought. Your first home to truly be your own. The one with the literal white picket fence. The one two blocks from the library and one block from the local elementary school. Your (hopefully) forever home where you brought home sweet baby boy number two and will watch them grow with each passing year.

It's so much fun taking a trip down memory lane. To see the towns and cities that shaped me. I've moved around a lot. Although I'm grateful for each amazing place that has helped mold my story, it feels really, really good to finally be home sweet home.

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