I revisited my childhood home last week for the first time in over nine years. Most of my growing up was done in that house, and many of my memories can be found littering every part of the house, yard, and surrounding woods. I walked around the outside of the house itself and revisited the place where our swing-set/fortress had stood. I saw the fence post one of my sisters broke her face on when we were sledding. I walked over the exposed tree roots my sisters and I had used as pseudo bases in our unique take on baseball/wiffle ball.
The sledding hill was smaller than I had remembered. The garden more wild and unkempt. The house itself, already over 100-years-old when we lived in it, was looking older and more worn. The yard, though still large, was not as spacious as it had felt.
I didn't go into the house itself, but I remembered hanging laundry on the second-floor porch, the patched-together carpet in the living room, and accidentally sewing my finger one day on my sewing machine.
I remembered when I was 8-years-old and how my mom cried as my dad explained that he was being deployed to Iraq for a year – and the blizzard we drove through to see him off in New Jersey. I was reminded of all the things that had made me feel like my world was going to come crashing down.
But mostly, I remembered who I was when I lived there: a young, awkward 6-year-old to 12-year-old with glasses and frizzy hair. I remembered some of my fears and joys. I remembered where I had come from and how much I have grown. I did not miss being that young girl, though I missed her optimism and idealism.
I remembered my life there and I looked back on the things I had experienced and saw the ways they had changed me and my family. But mostly, I saw how I survived and thrived in spite of the hardships. And though things are different now than they were then, that does not mean that they are bad now. I will continue to live and make memories that I will one day revisit.