The House My Father Built is the House that Built Me

You probably want to replace that outdated pink & green wallpaper in the back bedroom. That’s fine, I don’t blame you. But before you do, just know it’s 26 years old, which is practically as old as me. If walls could talk — they’d tell you about how my mom would brush my thin, fine hair every morning in front of the vanity. I would wail at every tangle, every knot, every bad part and eventually, we’d agree on a ponytail. For 12 straight years, I only wore my hair in a ponytail.

Sorry about those marks on the inside walls of the garage. You can thank my right foot for that. I spent hours afternoon-after-afternoon launching a soccer ball at that wall to practice my shot. Surprisingly, this ritual actually developed a mean upper 90.

The front door really shouldn’t be red. We painted it for you. Actually, red is hated in our house. I don’t know why my parents chose that color, but the real estate agents say it looks nice. I hope you do, but I also kind of hope you paint it dark green again. That’s its natural color.

Please don’t remodel mom and dad’s closet. That’s where I would hide during summer thunderstorms — under the bottom row of hanging clothes. You can tell your daughter that it’s also a good hiding spot from older brothers, too.

Let me tell you about the basement. It’s somewhat scary now but once, it was the cool place to be. We had an actual arcade-style pool table down there. It was my uncle’s, but when he passed away with a heart attack, it somehow it became ours.

That second drawer by the refrigerator in the kitchen is kind-of wonky. We really don’t know what happened there, but I think we’ve all tried to fix it at some point. It’s a really good place to put things you don’t need that often. I think my old elementary school ID’s are in there. I hope I remember to remove them, but if I don’t — can you please forward?

The laundry door can sometimes get stuck. But isn’t it neat that it’s a swinging door? Nothing a little WD-40 can’t fix. That room has the best wallpaper. I picked it out myself.

One time my friend Jesse jumped off the deck on the left of the family room when I was hosting a study session for my AP History class. I’m sure you probably think he was a crazy person. That’s why I always had a crush on him.

We used to have muscadine vines in the front yard that connected our yard with Aunt Harriet’s. Those have been torn down and I hate that for you. In the fall, they made the air so sweet. At the start of the season, I’d pick a bushel and take them to school. Some kids didn’t like the texture, but I loved how unique they tasted and looked. Nature is funny that way.

We’re leaving the swing in the woods out front. The rope might need to be replaced, but if you push just right — you can almost go all the way around the tree.

I’m the one to blame for the hole in the garage door. Dad tried to patch up with duct tape, but that didn’t do much good. I was late for Winter Formal because of a wrestling tournament (as the wrestling manager, these things happen) and my date was waiting for me in the parking lot. Long story short, I was in a rush and didn’t open the garage door before I put my Camry in reverse. My dad didn’t get too mad at me because he knew I was nervous about the dance and now, it’s kind-of a funny story. My date loved it and was simply glad I didn’t stand him up. I attended his wedding last month.

Heads up, I don’t think we ever took down the Christmas lights in one of the trees out front.

Know our house isn’t perfect. But for 26 beautiful years, it was our version of perfect.

My dad built it with his bare hands. Over the years, he’s patched the roof and repainted the wood sidings, changed countless light bulbs and air filters. He installed a gas fireplace after the blizzard of ‘93. That shoddy concrete staircase by the side of the house wasn’t done by him, by the way.

We moved in the year I was born. Needless to say, it’s the only place I’ve wholly trusted. I could tell you the exact time it takes to get to the high school as soon as you step out the front door. When your mom is the high school principal like mine, you kind of need to know these things.

The neighbors are nice, but they’ve gotten younger and more standoffish over the years. You can see the 4th of July fireworks from the back porch, but I recommend going into town for the festivities.

You’re moving into a house that’s boomed with laughter, watched countless Carolina victories, been lit with candles during 60-person family Christmas parties, hosted birthday/graduation/retirement cookouts, survived tornado warnings, was where we’d gather after high school football games — after big wins and unimaginable losses, been home to multiple pets who prefer to watch you pull up from the big window in the living room and has served witness to my family for 26 years.

One that’s grown as we grew. One that’s stood tall when we might have felt small. One that we have loved despite the dents, the scars and the scrapes.

You know how they say, some homes have good bones. Well, this house has the best bones. Why? Because it was built with our bones.

Take good care of it because it will take good care of you.