Writing 101 – “The House That Built Me.”


The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert

When I was 17-years-old, my family moved out of our 850 square foot house (per level) because my family needed more space. My brother’s were big teenagers at 15-years-old and 13-years-old, we had a medium-sized dog named Nikki, plus my parents. The old house was too small to fit us all. Slowly, we packed up boxes, putting away books, trinkets, dishes, all items that held memories. The dog didn’t know what was going on but she remained in a confused hyper-alert state and came crashing through the room anytime a large item of furniture was moved. We moved everything ourselves, rented a big u-haul truck, and moved about 13 blocks closer to the River Valley into the house we live now.

Our old house was tiny. Even when we were little kids and I was 12-years-old it was small but my Dad had done a lot of work on our old house and I think it was a blow to each of us to see years later, the new owner had taken out the hedge that separated the garden from the lawn; sodded over the garden where we had grown every kind of vegetable — also these tiny but tart little strawberries; we saw that the new owner had taken down the deck and built a set of ugly steps up to the patio door; we saw he had chopped down the apple tree that we had grafted various kinds of green and red mouth-watering apple branches to; the new owner chopped down other trees in the front yard;  and the little house that had never seemed a hovel to us, now looks like one because of him.

Inside the little house was a landing when you came in with steps going downstairs and short flight of steps going up to the kitchen. We had an oak table in the kitchen. There were oak kitchen cabinets and drawers against the far wall where half of the cupboards were oak and the other half were still the old 1940’s cupboards that were original to the house. My Dad had never finished that project.

Down a hallway from the kitchen was a peach bathroom Dad had redone when I was a little girl (smaller than 12-years-old) and a living room where we had ripped out the carpet to reveal a wooden floor. The living room had become the nicest room in the house with  light green and gold sofas; a cream, green, and rose flowered carpet; and a runner of similar pattern to the carpet by the front door and closet. There was a piano in the living room that I hated. I hated to practice on it and hated it even more when my Dad started singing and practicing on the piano at 6:30 am on a Saturday for choir.

Down the hall were 2 bedrooms: the master bedroom painted light yellow where my parents slept, and a white room with a 90’s green carpet where my little brother slept. My brother’s room had a wide desk with 2 alcoves for seats and this desk covered the back wall. Both my brothers had been in that room at one time.

Downstairs was a small bathroom my Dad had built as well as laundry and a small pantry area to the left. Directly, in front of the stairs was my other brother’s bedroom that use to be my Dad’s office. It had grey carpet and white walls and was the perfect place for a boy who loved computers. To the left of that room was a playroom and TV room where we sat on old couches and watched tapes full of Disney movies that my Aunt had tapped off of TV.

And in the corner and to the left of that room was my bedroom. It was a room my Dad had built from a concrete storage area and when I was 8-years-old I moved down there and painted it a gorgeous bright light blue. This went with an ice blue carpet, a twin sized bed my dad had made with drawers when I was 4-years-old, a Barbie house, a dresser with a mirror, and too many spiders who visited too often.

When we drive by our old house now, we try not to look. It’s hard seeing what someone else did to your families hard work. I think my parents redid every room in that house at one time or another and if it didn’t look as nice in the end it’s because we were kids and kids are hard on houses and so are pets.

The backyard was the most beautiful area on our property.  It was always covered in flowers and the garden full of wonderful vegetables like peas and carrots that the dog pigged out on. It’s nice to know where your food is coming from, that it is truly organic — even if it’s just for your dog’s sake. And my mom made jam, canned peaches, and  frozen beans and peas. We had corn and other fresh produce in the summer, rhubarb, mint, dill, and tons of delicious apples that made so many crisps, pies, apple juice, and apple sauce.

But as Miranda Lambert sings ” [y] ou know they say you can’t go home again,” it’s the truth. That childhood home is no longer our home and only broken pieces of it remain in the yard and if I’m not mistaken, in the house. Still like Lambert’s song title, I believe ” it was the house that built me” and built my family into what we are today.