You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You are a stranger to me, but there is one thing that I know for certain we have in common. We have lived in the exact same place, under the same roof, only at different times. In fact, The place you call home was the first home I’d ever known. I spent many nights curled up under my floral comforter in the room my parents painted yellow for me. I spent many days playing with toys in the large room off the kitchen. You know the one I’m talking about. The sloping streets that make up the neighborhood were once the sloping streets that I trick or treated on. And in the side yard, my father taught me how to ride a bike. It took me ages to learn. I bet you think that my family and I spent countless summer days in the pool in the backyard. The truth is I didn’t even learn how to swim until we moved out of there. What a waste.
It’s funny. The way that fate and life work out. We wanted to move out and you were looking for a place to move into. Maybe you’re not the person that bought the house from us and moved in directly after us, but either way, somehow us leaving led to you moving in. A strange and unpredictable series of events that is life. I was very young when we left, but I have vivid memories of my childhood. In almost all of them, the house is sitting there, a staple of my past. And before me, it was my mother growing up there. I love when she tells stories of her adolescence, because I can so clearly see it. I can see the place that she grew up in, because it isn’t just a fabled place in a story. It isn’t just a figment of my imagination. I don’t have to imagine what it looks like because I know what it looks like. It wasn’t just her first home, it was mine too, and my little sister’s. I think there’s something really special in that. I know that if my mother could have picked up the house and dropped it where we live now, she would've.
My fondest memories in the house are the ones that include my family. Like the time my uncle gave my mom one of those fake lottery tickets for Christmas, and she got so excited only to realize it was a joke. Or my first day of Kindergarten, when I stood in the yard clutching an Eggo waffle while my parents snapped millions of pictures of me. One of my absolute favorite memories is the day we brought home my baby sister. While waiting nine months for her arrival, we had painted her room pink and purple. I received books and shirts telling me that I was destined to be a big sister, and I began to take such pride in the role I was about to assume. A few nights after she was born, we took her home from the hospital. Back to the house, where we began to grow up together.
We are occasionally in town. We didn’t move very far away. I still have friends who live in the area, so I visit regularly. Sometimes we drive by, and we just look at the house through the car windows. I always think it's strange. Strange to know that there is a good chance I will never go in there again. Never roam the halls or eat in the dining room featured in our home videos. You got rid of the tree, the big tree in the front yard that my uncle carved his initials into when he was little. The front yard is now turf. Some of the walls are painted silver, with Oakland Raiders decorations on display. Despite these changes, the house looks good. It puts us at ease to see that the front yard isn’t overgrown as if nobody lives there at all. It puts us at ease to know that there are people in there making their own memories.
I guess the reason that I decided to write this letter is because it's not really the house that has all the stories and memories in it. The house is a part of our past, but we wouldn’t find anything in there that we didn’t already have inside ourselves. No, that ended the day we took the last box of our stuff out and signed the papers. The truth is, our past and our memories, and every story that is conjured from it, they are things that we have and carry with us all the time. And if we don’t tell them, we’ll forget them. And if we forget them, then what’s the point?