It changed so much, but it still remains the same. When my parents first moved in, each room had a different color of carpet. It was the 70’s then, so the previous owners weren’t shy on their color choices either—red, orange, blue, green…all bright, shaggy, and blinding. But things eventually changed there. Tan carpet replaced the rainbow floor, and burgundy carpet was laid carefully in the master bedroom. It was a simple improvement to make the house a home.
This home over the years welcomed and housed eight children and two hard working parents. It was always busy—everyone doing his or her own thing, rushing here and there. But somehow amidst the hustle and bustle, life was simpler there, and almost always peaceful. However, a battle would surmount every mealtime, as we all would try to squeeze through the small doorframe from the living room to the kitchen to try to sit by mom for dinner.
We sat at a beautiful oval mahogany table. There were a few dents and scratches, but not enough to detract my mom’s ever-pleasing stare at her beautiful table. A leaf was constantly placed in this table, as our family was just too big to not have the extra space. Metal folding chairs with lightly padded cushions surrounded the table, as beautiful wood chairs would never fit us all. The kitchen cabinets were dark, old, and stained with spilled milk, water, juice, and even crumbs that wouldn’t seem to go away. A cold, red linoleum countertop covered the counters and spread up the walls to serve as a backsplash. It was rather ugly, but this was home, and this was our childhood.
My dad worked six days a week, and put all of his energy into his job. It seemed to suck the life out of him; but he wanted to provide for our family, as well as keep the family business alive. He was more dedicated than he was awake sometimes. He came home every day, exhausted, only to have more work to do at home. He laid on his bed and turned on his shows (confiscating the remote from whoever had it before). He would watch his shows, sift through bids, and munch on a few chocolate covered malt balls before dinner. After barely making ends meet each year—year after year, my parents finally had enough money to remodel the house. My dad’s hard work was paying off, and my mom could finally dream of a newer and prettier home to house her family.
The tiny kitchen doorframe was covered, and a big opening was made in the kitchen to allow for an easy flow of traffic. Beautiful cherry wood, with just a simple clear coat of glaze was laid on the floor. The ever so light olive green paint was replaced by a neutral tan color—but the bumps all over the walls remained. After hours and hours my mother’s new, and one of a kind textured ceiling was complete, patterned after her own design. Crown molding was hung, baseboards laid. Fresh new tan carpet was laid—even in the master bedroom. New cabinets were installed—almost a caramel honey color, and smooth to the touch, with little silver knobs. The check that I had let slip behind the red linoleum backsplash years ago was discovered; still in its envelope just waiting to be found. Beautiful countertops were placed atop the new cabinets—a marble effect to linoleum. It was beautiful, it became home once again.
A large rug was purchased to help protect my mom’s cherry floor, and to protect our knees as we knelt each morning for family prayer. The same couches that we had had forever, surrounded this new rug, with my dad’s new leather recliner at the head. The couches…had this smell…a smell of home. It was a combination of my family’s scents engrained into the fabric. The wood floor beneath us was much more smooth than our old rough carpet that had been in the living room previously. Our scripture cases slid under the couch with such ease each morning as we finished our family study. Some mornings, if we weren’t careful, we could push too hard and the scriptures would slide all the way under the couch and come out the other side. This was home.
My family’s home changed over the years, but so did the people in it. We grew, we loved, and we played in that house. We gained our testimonies, we shared our sorrows, and we shared our joys. The bumpy tan walls protected us from the outside world. The bumpy tan walls were a place of refuge for our family. The bumpy tan walls heard us learn to read at five years old, as we stumbled over words like Zarahemla and Ishmaelites, and zoom over phrases like “and it came to pass”—which is a common phrase in the Book of Mormon. The bumpy tan walls welcomed our daily morning scripture study. The bumpy tan walls heard us talk to God, plead for each other’s protection, and give our grateful hearts to the Lord. The bumpy tan walls encompassed us and made a home much more than just a place to live.
But in 2006 the bumpy tan walls became smooth tan walls as my dad built my mom her dream house just one mile north. The new home has encompassed our family, and housed many memories, sorrows, and triumphs of our lives now. It is also home. But the bumpy tan walls are where my dreams are. When in deep sleep, I am taken back to my childhood house—my first home. It is where my life began and where my heart remains.