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What is home, exactly? Here are my thoughts on that

By Jennisea RedfieldPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Photo by Rowan Heuvel on Unsplash

Growing up, home was a series of memories. Home was the smell of cheap cigarettes, of Mexican beer that, when spilt on the carpet, stuck to calloused feet. Home was coming back from school, and you hear your mother singing, very off key, to Selena and the Kumbia Kings, while making horchata to sell on the weekends to our neighbors by the gallon. Home was my brothers and I gagging and coughing, our lung burning from the fumes of poblano peppers being fire roasted on the stove top, to us bolting outside, frantically slurping down water from the garden hose, and later turning the backyard into a mud pit to beat the growing heat. Home was getting our asses kicked for reenacting the mud wrestling scene from Shrek on the dog and each other, and later being told to strip down to our underwear and leave our once colorful clothes in a pile of brown sludge by the laundry room.

Home was grabbing wads of newspaper and scrubbing the windows streak free and polished bright like a mirror. It was my brothers and I taking turns and power washing our part of the sidewalk, so the maintenance man didn’t have to. Home was my brothers stupidly shooting BB guns at hornets nests, and me watching from under a tree, covered in mud, and later me laughing as my brother hide from the angry swarm in our mud pit. Home was a massive scarred rottweiler acting as our babysitter while mom cooked dinner, following us at a steady pace as we hunted for daddy long legs to feed our demented demon fish. Home was drinking room temperature root beer and having burping contests, it was running through alleys and field, and later picking cockleburs out of our clothes.

Home was a place we took off our scuffed and sometimes soggy shoes, and of me emptying my pockets of freshly caught snails and frog eggs into a clean pickle jar full of filtered waters and algae. It was where I filled more and more jars full of snails, sometimes water worms, frog eggs and minnows. It was where I shared my fruit snacks with a pet rat, who made her home in a potted plant, which was in turn a home to a fat barn spider who later got eaten by Houdini the rat. Home was where I cried because my mom dumped all my jars of frog spawn and snails into the main fish tank to make room for new plants, accidentally killing my little friends as they became fish food. Home was where I learned that bigger fish eat little fish, and frog spawn were tasty snacks for an evil cichlid with one eye. This home was long gone, it is a memory now.

Now a days, home is a hyper little three-year-old running naked through the apartment, and me shortly behind him with a clean diaper and pajamas. It’s of the dog following right behind us, yapping and enjoying the bout of chaos.

“I have to be naked!!!” my son squeals when I catch him after several minutes.

“It’s too cold to be this level of naked...” I grumble. He didn’t enjoy the clothes.

Home is watching my oldest kid, a daughter of 17, accidentally set sugar on fire on the stove top, and me wondering how...? It watching as she panics, and then of her watching me dump half a bag of mildewy flour onto the flames. It’s now both of us covered with the white powder, and the floor.

“...So that’s what that’s for.” she states dumbly.

“Everything gets used. Even rotten flour.”

Home is sitting on the couch, listening to ballads sung by Metallica, inhaling the subtle scents of tobacco and spice from artisan candles, listening to the faint wick crackle and fizz from faint flames, no bigger than your pinkie. It’s watching horror movies to pass the time of the night. It’s rewatching those same movies for little tidbits of trivia, for something new in the background.

“You’re a fucking psycho...” my brother states one day after I watch one and go straight to sleep.

“I never said I wasn’t.” I add.

Home is sitting at the table, sipping apple cider laced with vitamin C powder, ignoring the aches of my body from my overweight mass, putting unending pressure on joints and giving way to so many micro fractures on my tempered bones. It’s looking at the numerous scars that knit along my skin and wondering which type of tattoo will make it pretty, like the old oil burn on my left hand, now covered with a stain glass butterfly of my own design.

“Did it hurt?” my baby asks, poking at my tattoo.

“Not anymore.” I chime.

Home is sitting on my bed, listening to my baby snore like a grown ass man, listening to the train squeal and whine in a steady tempo every night, rumbling like a long, lonely beast with no certain destination. It’s the smell of the coldness clinging to my thin apartment walls that creak from the wind trying its hardest to billow in. Home is turning on my phone and playing a series of songs that lull me to sleep slowly, easing my body to relax under thick blankets, even in the height of summer.

Home is me sitting on my pink striped couch, writing this piece, listening to my brother cuss and yell at PS5 game, yelling at my other brothers who are doing the same thing at their own homes. And despite all the memories, new and young, Home isn’t a place to me. It’s the people I invite into my life. And just possibly, it’s the memories I leave for the next round of family.


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