“Mom, can we please drive by the blue house?”
Poor kids, I thought. They missed the place as much as I did. I hit the brakes and made a sharp left turn. Hopefully the new owners wouldn't be outside today.
My youngest pressed her nose against the window. “What did they do to our yard?”
“Some kind of landscaping, I guess.” I shook my head and continued gawking.
My oldest daughter shot up in her seat. “Look! The curtains are open in my room.”
An uneasy feeling swept over me. Why did I feel guilty? I wasn't doing anything wrong. Yet I wondered what the owners might think if they recognized me. I scrunched down in my seat.
“Is that a computer?” My daughter’s shriek interrupted my thoughts. “They've turned my bedroom into an office!”
In the master bathroom, I remembered the silly grin on my husband’s face as we watched that undeniable plus sign appear on our first pregnancy test. In the living room, I remembered the exact spot where each of my babies took their first wobbly steps.
There were birthday parties on the deck. Softball games in the backyard. Family meals around the kitchen table. And it wasn’t just the good times. I remembered trials and tears as well. Everywhere I looked, memories surrounded me.
“Check all the drawers and look in the closets,” my husband instructed. “We don’t want to leave anything.”
But it already felt like I was leaving something. Part of me.
To me, home was a place that felt comfortable and familiar. At the blue house, I could get up in the night, give a kid a teaspoon of cough syrup and crawl back into bed without turning on a light. In the new house, I felt lost. While looking for silverware, I found the potholders. When I needed more light, I switched on the garbage disposal. I loved the new house, but it felt so different.
Even the holidays seemed different. We gathered for Thanksgiving dinner in a different dining room. We mailed Christmas cards and letters from our new address.
Yet, as each holiday passed, I realized something. Though the house was different, the precious faces around me had remained the same. Being with my family made it feel more like home. It wasn’t about the house. It was about the people.
“Hey guys, do you want to cruise by the house?”
The two older girls exchanged blank looks. Finally, my youngest spoke.
“Nah, that’s okay.” She shrugged her shoulder. “I’d rather just go home.”
As I drove past the turn off, I smiled. Coincidentally, I didn't care to see the blue house either. At last, I thought, we were finally going home.