My very first memory involves a sense of being – of being home. Before I turned four years old, I had lived in four different houses, in two different states, in two different countries. Perhaps all of the moving in those four years withered my parents’ sense of wanderlust because they have never moved again. This year marks thirty-five years in the same house. Though I have no memories of where I was born or the foreign country that I called home for nine months, I still proudly claim both when asked where I am from. Most people answer, “I’m from Ohio,” or “I’m from Colorado.” By contrast, I answer with detail that I consider critical to understanding who I am, “I was born in Texas, but grew up here in Huntsville (Alabama).”
One never knows if three-year-old memories are accurate or fabrications pieced together from stories told by one’s parents or pictures in photo albums. Oddly, I desperately want this memory to be real. I have never seen pictures of our first day in our new house in Huntsville, nor have I ever heard my parents tell a specific story about moving day. And yet, I have this memory, which I can recall at will.
It must be afternoon because the sunlight streams through the window in my new bedroom, even with the blinds closed. My room faces south, though it also faces a small hill. Sunlight without the pounding heat of a southern, south-facing window. I am sitting on the edge of a bed that has been set in one corner of the room – the corner where my bed will be until I give up my room to my younger brother and sister (twins). And I am quiet, and the room is quiet, and I am home. This is my home, my new house. How can I possibly be aware of the sense of belonging which comes from home when I am only three? Perhaps the belonging, the peace, the contentment I remember is linked to my deep knowledge of my parents’ love for me. For, truly, love equals coming home.