whether they are a part of their home or home is a part of them is not a question children are prepared to answer. having taken away the dog, take away the kitchen--the smell of something good in the oven for dinner. also, the smell of washday, of wool drying on the wooden rack. of ashes. of soup simmering on the stove. take away the patient old horse waiting by the pasture fence. take away the chores that kept him busy from the time he got home from school until they sat down for supper. take away the early morning mist, the sound of crows quarreling in the treetops. take away all this and what have you done to him? in the face of deprivation so great, what is the use of asking him to go on being the boy he was. he might as well start life over again as some other boy instead.
i drove home in the snow yesterday. it wasn't much. not enough to make the roads dangerous. just a little powdery cascade, dusting my front porch rocker and daintily dancing upon my sidewalk.
and as i drove, i thought (because that's when i do my best thinking, you know).
about driving home. calling home. walking in my home.
there are things i know because i am taught. because i spend time to learn them and engrave them into my mind. the alphabet, multiplication tables, how to sew a button. my favorite song lyrics.
and then, there are things i know, because i can feel them. in my bones. somewhere that memory doesn't reach. somewhere inside the infant part of me. the part i can't recall.
i can't remember when i first memorized the shape of my home. the rooms and their placement. the corners and unexpected turns. the locations of all the light switches, tabletops and little step-downs. it just happened. and unlike academics, work, or anything else i learned through a teacher, i will never forget it.
because i still have to bring my calculator to the grocery store. i look at directions when i sew. i write down lyrics so i can repeat them later. i forget grammar, history, and science sometimes.
but i still remember the path to my childhood bedroom. the room with white walls at the top of the stairs. and i still remember the shape of calling robert's old cell phone number, mama's car phone from the 90s, and my best friend's home number, which i haven't called in ages.
because things like that can't be unlearned. because home is me. i am home. what am i if not the accumulation of little moments associated with that structure of brick and vinyl siding, sheet rock and stucco?
the shape of home has changed, yes. now i have two homes. my childhood one and my new one with robert. but both are the same. i still run to them every afternoon. mama used to be at the stove, making homemade vegetable soup in the winter. now, i come home to robert, on the couch with pablo, watching the evening news.
it's a different scene, but one that is wholly familiar to me.
i remember. i understand. i feel.
not because i was taught. because i already knew.