Builtof gray stone and situated on a small plateau in the middle of rolling hills ismy grandmother's three-story farmhouse. Sunken into the land, it fits like aperfect piece in the puzzle of the checkered landscape.
This housefostered comfort and happiness. I trusted that it would always be there, and feltsafe in knowing I could always go back and revel in its character and uniqueness.It was my mother's home. It was my grandmother's house.
We drove up thegravel driveway and parked under the overhang. For weeks, my mom had been tryingto get me to go. The settlement was at the end of the week, and I finally gavein.
Only five stepping stones away from the road was the door. Massivepine trees, only half as tall when I was born and even smaller when my mother wasyoung, shaded the front of the house and blocked the wrap-around porch on thesecond level.
My mom unlocked the door with the key she'd had for years. Adraft of the scent inside hit me like a slap in the face. I let it resonate in mybrain as the smell triggered memories.
Boxes belonging to strangershad invaded the living room. In the kitchen the refrigerator had been ripped out,the furniture removed. All I could see were the images of Christmas Day duringthe past 17 years.
I stepped onto the porch. From the left, the streetslithered through the hills to the front door and continued on to the right. Withone breath I inhaled the sweet pine scent from the trees and looked at thesetting sun.
Up the road was my cousin's house. Between the two homes wehad dwelled in days of simple play. In the halcyon times of summer, our bathingsuits became second skins, our bikes second sets of legs. We spent comfortablehours in the pastoral landscape, knowing the day was ours. I took one last lookat the view. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want it to be just amemory.
My grandfather walked into the house carrying a camera. Muscles oflabor, skin of leather; years of hard work were in this once six-foot-tall oldman. His height had shrunk while his belly had swelled.
My mom anxiouslysnapped a picture of her old bedroom. The house was retained in its splendor forthat frozen moment. My grandfather put his strong hand, a hand worthy of farming,on my shoulder. Flash.
For one last time I was part of these walls. I putthe place to rest in my mind, trying to swallow the lump in my throat. As I saidgood-bye to an era of my life - the chapter of my childhood - my eyes welled withtears. Closing the white metal door for the last time, I carried with me a senseof security as strong as those old stone walls.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.