It's been just over a week since life as we know it was packed into boxes, loaded into the back of an orange and white truck and transported from one city to another. Our family unit has known three moves in just as many years; and Teighlor, Alec and I have lived in ten different cities within two states over the past sixteen years. I'm beginning to believe that we may be drawing closer, mile by mile, to earning a "gypsy" notch on our life belts.
As a kid growing up, the majority of my years were spent in a two-story home on Olive Street in a county named for the brightly colored and most beloved breakfast juice fruit. I vaguely remember the sight and scent of orange groves before homes allowing for the influx of families were built on top of the dirt once formerly inhabited by trees.
Year after year, my birthday photos show me blowing out candles in front of the sliding glass door that led to the yard that was home to countless barbecues and endless games of tag, capture the flag and baseball played with wiffle balls and plastic bats.
Christmases were celebrated with a sentimentally decorated tree that moved from one corner to another, depending on the arrangement of furniture, but always filled the same living room lit by a log in the fireplace that was home to our stockings every December.
Meals were prepared in the kitchen that saw changing appliances, flooring and cabinet doors, but always held the familiar window next to the sink that framed the faces of friends and family as they showed up on the front doorstep.
Bedrooms held both children and parents; and even were home to almost every grandchild at one time or another.
Time passed. Days became weeks, became months, became years. Children became adults. And one by one we all stretched our wings and ventured out into the world. Each of us said "I Do" and God filled our arms with the next generation.
As life would have it, one by one we all were hit with situational curveballs and found a place of healing within the comfort of those same walls, made possible by the two home-filled-hearts we called Mom and Dad and the younger generation called "grand".
My grown-up dreams held visions of the same kinds of memories. Where wall colors changed but the walls themselves did not. Where old carpeting was replaced by new cherry laminate flooring covered by area rugs where feet made cold by winter months could find solace. Where hot pink or camouflage teenage comforters replaced Winnie-the-Pooh baby blankets once nuzzled by sleeping toddlers. Where nail polish and lip gloss replaced Barbie dream homes, and slumber parties of giggling girls replaced tea parties served at a small table surrounded by stuffed animals. Where a driveway once littered with hot wheels propelled by chubby, little boy fingers was now home to the clamoring feet of sweaty boys playing game after game of basketball on long, summer nights.
Home was defined by the square footage within the walls topped with the roof that never changed. And I was determined to provide my family with those same types of memories to tuck into their hearts and pass onto their children.
From one move to another, one year after another, God challenged my grown-up dream and taught me one of my most cherished and valuable life lessons:
Home is not about the walls that make up the rooms that hold up the roof that was supposed to never change. Home is about the love that fills the hearts that are held by the people that fill those rooms.
And memories? They may be birthed in a particular city but they are not held captive by a street address. They will always remain in the home of our hearts.