I believe that you can go home again, that there truly is no place like home, but home is a feeling rather than a location. Growing up with my nine brother and sisters in Peoria, Illinois, my parents created a home where meals were served in shifts, traveling together in one car was an impossibility, and our remote control was our baby sister.
In our four story, five bedroom, white house with a big front porch, the boys played basketball in the living room and for our evening entertainment the girls acted out the song “Matchmaker” from the musical “Fiddler On The Roof.” Our home was a sane commune and we loved it. There were plenty of Oreo cookies to last us through the high school years. Not every moment or day or month was perfect but it was our childhood, our memories, and collectively we try to remember only the good stuff.
In the mid-1970s a strange thing happened. We all grew up and moved away. Off to college in Chicago, St. Louis and California; off to work in Connecticut, Massachusetts and southern Illinois. Some of us stayed, most of us married and as our parents moved out of our home we said goodbye to not just a place where the dinner table was a real place, or the basement was scary, or where my parents bedroom was off limits, but for all ten of us this was our constant safe place representing over 100 years of combined memories.
Many grandchildren later, my sister, generously returned the white house to our family, bought it back and began raising her family. It was strange to walk through the center of our universe (the kitchen) and look around with adult eyes, to jump up the stairs two at a time and see the height marks of baby brother Robin on the door jam. How could only four people live here? It was a like walking backwards through your life on high speed.
Our sentiment ran high and we shared every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Baptism, 10th birthday party, and loose tooth together in the old/new white house creating new memories and celebrating old ones.
You can go home again. You can go home to the feeling of love from those who knew you when your hair was straggly and to those who served smashed white bread as communion from the bathtub altar. Home is the feeling you get when you see your kids and their cousins go upstairs to practice the musical performance they’ve planned for your pre-dinner entertainment.
Victoria Higle is an author and marketing manager in suburban Detroit. She is one of 10 children from “incredible parents,” and the mother of four of her own kids.