Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
At twelve, I was in the sixth grade, living on a farm approximately twelve miles outside of a small town in western North Dakota. My house was, simply put, old. The first part of the house was built in 1904, and then added onto repeatedly over the next twenty years or so. Consequently, the house has settled differently and it’s, well, unique. The bathrooms are miniscule, the staircase steep and narrow, and the windows make the most dreadful farting noise when the wind blows. I believe that at that time it was painted gray, although the weather seemed to beat our siding off at semi-regular intervals. Two stories and a basement, as well as a garage repurposed (and remodeled, don’t worry) as a family room, it was perhaps one of the largest homes I’ve ever been in. The bedrooms were all, save one, upstairs. One bathroom on each floor, a living room and a family room, and a kitchen in desperate need of a redo–one it would receive six years in the future.
I lived there with my family, of course. My parents, who worked very hard for us and were nothing but supportive. My two brothers, separated in age by five years and myself, who fought ferociously regardless of my attempts at intervention. And yet we all lived there in relative peace. The cows took work. The crops took work. The chickens took work. The garden took a lot of work. And although we all complained heartily and secretly swore that they were ruining us with all these dreadful chores, we did them all anyway and it probably brought us closer together.
You want to know about my home? My home is not, nor has it ever been a house, a farm, a town, or a region. My home is in the hearts of those who love and support me, who fight for my success and stand behind my decisions, even when they aren’t necessarily the decisions that they’d have made. Mom, though she may wish I’d take easier paths, and Dad, who just wishes I’d pay a bit more attention, are both very proud of me, and with all I’ve been through–all we’ve been through together–it makes me sorely emotional to think about how much I appreciate their presence in my life. Because their presence isn’t just one of ambivalent existence, but rather an involved, and an interested one. Although my younger brother is no longer sharing this plane of existence with us, I do think that he is right there with my parents and older brother supporting me, encouraging me to keep going, keep working, succeed. Even my grandparents are right there on the frontlines, cheering me on and playing significant roles in my success. And last, but certainly never least, is the man I’ve chosen to spend my life with, who has stuck around even through all my shit fits and my panic attacks and depression cycles, my unmanageable angst and frustrating absurdity. There is genuinely nothing better than knowing that it doesn’t matter where we are, what we’re doing, what’s troubling us or working against our success, I am home when I am with him. There’s nothing more I could ask for.