For twenty-seven years, I spent my days and nights in one place. My mother, father and sister and I called it home. At 6:00 p.m., most evenings, we would gather at our dining table and eat roti, dal, and veggies. When my sister and I asked for a glass of water, my father would say, “Wait, finish your meal and then you can have a drink.” On that same table, I spent many nights studying, trying to figure out statistics or writing my senior paper on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. My eyes tired, my father stayed up with me and made his famous coffee. After brewing it the old fashioned way, he would pour it from one container to another, creating a creamy froth and said, “Who needs Starbucks?” On Sundays, we gathered in our living room and prepared for our weekly Cowboys game by eating subways, chips and drinking our favorite soda.
Our house witnessed milestones that are too numerous too count. I learned, with my father’s help to ride my bike and car down that street, the one we called Bosque. I remember, one night, my teenage hormones calling all the shots, propelled me to run away from home. As I walked down our street, my father’s car followed my every step. After I dawdled for forty minutes, it made sense to just get back into the car and go home. I boomeranged home after every graduation, high school, grad and law school. We celebrated every milestone by cutting cake and our mom making my favorite Indian food, pani-puri.
Those crème-black bricks hold so many of my stories. If the bricks could have a conversation, they would tell you about my nervous anxiety when my then boyfriend now husband picked me up on the front porch for our first date. It was the place my husband met my parents for the first time. I still recall what each one of us wore and how we all exchanged a flurry of words, a potpourri of English and Gujarati filling the air. After we married and we had our daughter, there were many visits to grandpa and grandma’s house. It is the place where my daughter shared memories with her grandpa, where he tickled her arm until she revealed her raucous belly laugh.
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I am certain the house cried along with us when my father passed away in my childhood room. The windows witnessed his body being placed inside the black hearse on that dark March night. We all watched him leave forever from the front porch. We witnessed his return as a box, his ashes packed away like a gift.
I can’t go back to reminisce anymore. As of this week, my childhood house belongs to another family. When I visit that place again, I will do so as an outsider. A new family, everyone tells me, will make happy and sad memories. As much as I hope the space will bring great memories for this new family, I feel a part of me, my father, and my childhood is lost. The place that served as a meeting ground for so many connections and memories will no longer serve as my safe harbor. For so many years, the house wasn’t an object, but a real person in all our lives, witnessing joys, sadness and every single something, big or small.
I realized today I can’t go back.