I don’t know what I was expecting when I entered my old, improved home. Ten years of abandonment.. Did I really expect it not to change? My walls are not the light pink I picked out to match my dog’s fur. There is no tall pinewood armoire-type desk weighed down by a clunky silver computer screen equipped with Windows 98 and a Shel Silverstein poem collection CD-Rom. There are no green stars scattered aimlessly above my bed that glow when I turn off the lights.

My junk drawer – consisting of everything I could ever possibly want and need for the rest of my life (according to 6 year-old me). Gameboy Colors, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, paper, batteries (dead and new, but mainly dead), twigs, weird side-of-the-road finds, tools, and so much more. I also remember CD’s of Britney Spears (not only my idol, but my doppelgänger) playing in my bright yellow handheld CD player on infinite loop.

We had three trees. A fat one in the middle and two tall, skimpy orange ones. When I was younger, I fell from the orange tree on the right and broke my wrist. I remember always telling people, “It was like six feet off the ground!” To me, six feet was tall so I boasted about my survival skills. But I have a feeling it was much shorter than that. I didn’t cry that day, except when I was in the bath and my mom squeezed my wrist to see if I was faking. She didn’t believe me for three days. That orange tree is not there anymore. Where it stood, now stands an office that reaches from the fence to the only tree our yard still bears, the left (in every meaning of the word) orange tree.

My home has changed, but so have I. I’ve seen things, I’ve learned things, I’ve grown up, too. My memories have faded – all I have left are the ones I tightly held on to when I thought of happiness in worser times. I had hoped to enter the world of good memories that I had created in my mind, the day I came back. I couldn’t wait to sleep in my old bed or swing on my handmade rope swing and play with all the stuff I left behind in my junk drawer to see if anything was worth a million dollars…

I had visited some summers. I forgot what it felt like when I realised I didn’t see my home anymore. It wasn’t the pale yellow color I was familiar with – the once peeling paint, was now a green and brown silky-smooth, new coat of armor. I stood at the door and different people looked right at me, like a stranger. The windows slid open now, guarded by fly screens. When I was younger, you had to crank the handle to open the rusty windows and the breeze was impeccable!

I used to ask, “What makes a house a home?” And people often told me family, memories and home-cooked meals. Now, I ask, “What if your home is just a house?”

Thanks for reading!