As soon as I stepped through the doors of the old empty house, I started to weep. This has been my home for the last 19 years and it is very strange to think of life without it. But after much weeping as I wondered through each room, the walls began to echo stories and laughter from the past. I remember choosing my room because it had a pink lampshade and a ceramic pig on the wall and I remember seeing Noah’s light on next door through the heater vent, jealous he was aloud to stay awake while I had to lie in bed and listen to the whispers of my family late at night. The home holds many memories…even the ones full of heartache and tears only result in my feeling grateful. I am grateful that this has always been a place of comfort, safety and love. And yet, when I ponder life without it, I am happy to know that it is truly not these walls that made it that way. It is without a doubt the family that inhabited it that made it home and my home has now stretched far beyond the colorful walls of the little house on 66th St.

Every room was special for me in this house, but let me just choose three. First there is the basement: the place where it always felt like the kids ruled. Sleepovers and movie nights, cheese and crackers and Gilmore Girls, Basement Club. It was the farthest from Mom and Dad’s room and perhaps that’s why they let us play there whenever we wanted, but to me it was magic. It was a place where I felt comfortable to be as loud and zany as I wanted and nobody cared. I could sleep on the couch in the summers because it was cool and I could force my friends to watch The Sound of Music after prom because I still knew how to work the VCR. In my college years, it was always the place my high school friends and I would return to and make breakfast for dinner (because why change, even when you go to college?). It was a place to relax in every season of life: no responsibility, literally just fun and games.

Second is my brother’s room. One of my fondest memories of this house was the period of time my big brother moved back home during college and I wasn’t an only child anymore. Looking back on it, this was certainly much more fun for me than for him, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was just about the greatest thing for me. I remember hearing him pull out his guitar and I would poke my head in the door. He would play and I would sing Bright Eyes songs late into the night. I so looked up to him and never imagined that just a few years later we would be playing in a rock band together and become much closer friends. Years before, this room was also the land of a great Lego competition where we would split all of the Legos into three piles and each kid was to make a creation using every piece. Every Christmas morning, his bed was the one Kristi and I would land on to share a moment just the three of us before the family spent the whole day together. It was the room where my brother and sister were not just my brother and sister, but they became some of my closest friends.

And then, of course, the dining room. Food has always held a big place in my heart and I think it is because of this dining room. Though the food from my memories was quite good, it would not be nearly as wonderful if it weren’t for the company it was shared with. This dining room has been home to more important and delightful meals than I can count. Birthday parties, family lunches, post prom breakfast, dorm dinners. Chances to celebrate, chances to eat a home cooked meal, chances to be together. All I ever want to do with people is eat and it is because I was raised in a family that rarely played board games or went out to eat. Instead we ate a great meal and sat around the dining room table until the candles went out. We listened to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday nights and discussed theology on Sunday afternoons. When we ate spaghetti, there was always a red and white checked table cloth, when it was spare ribs cloth napkins were necessary, and when Gramma Nadine came to town the table was heaped with cinnamon bread grilled cheese. I was raised to love to eat and taught to share a meal whenever possible because there is no better way to grow close to someone than through a plate of homecooked love with a side of riveting conversation.

The house is going to be sold immediately in this market and my prayer is that a family will move in and love it half as well as we did. It’s a good little house, but I’m taking the things that made it a home with me. My parents and my brother and sister, well, we’re still around. My home is spread out to Germany and Leavenworth and Snoqualmie Pass, but soon we’ll all be much closer. We will sit around a table yet again and continue living life together, growing closer with each passing year. There’s no one in this world I love more than my family and that’s all I could think about as I listened to my echoing footsteps on the hardwood floors. I am thankful that I always had a place to come home to that felt safe and made me happy and I am thankful that with the growth of my family I simply have more places to call home. More arms to hold me when I am sad, hands to support me when I’m in need, and hearts to love at all times. Thank you, little house, for holding our hearts for so long – may you be a blessing to whoever enters your doors for years to come.