November 11, 2007
By Lia Pizoli, Stafford, VA

“Home,” a simple word, is filled with an enormous amount of meaning. The place you call “home,” is where you feel most comfortable at, where you feel the safest and where you feel loved. It’s the place where you can lock yourself in your room and cry for days over some stupid boy or something dumb that happened at school. The smell of the walls and your mother’s pretty, delicate candles seem to combine and spread across your clothing, creating your own unique scent. A home is like a big photo album. It’s filled with memories throughout the years. No matter the size or age, a house just seems to explode with memories.
It was a gloomy day in September. White fluffy clouds slowly swayed across the big blue sky of Lake Villa, Illinois. I lay in my friend’s large comfy bed, in sweats, staring up at the bright white ceiling, with a friend on each side of me. Today was not an ordinary day. It was the day I would be leaving my house I had lived in for as long as I could remember. It belonged in the friendliest neighborhood with cute houses tightly packed, all aligned parallel on each side of the street, where I had spent most of my childhood. Worst of all I would be leaving my friends and all the good times spent with them. Our neighborhood was unique and every resident was very close with each other. Like one big family. The children didn’t have to use doorbells to enter a house, and didn’t have to ask to gather food out of the fridge. It was something you didn’t have to even think about. Everyone’s house was another’s.

The neighbors and I had been lying around all day discussing memories of which had occurred in the past. From playing all the dumb games like capture the flag, ding dong ditch and Manhunt to pretending to be the Spice Girls and making up ridiculous dances. I suddenly received a call from my father, who told me it was time to come up to the house because we had to get ready to head out. I told my friends the news and watched the expressions on their faces quickly change.

As we walked outside and ascended back to my house, we gave each other piggyback rides and ate creamy caramel apples, picking up a few more neighbors on the way. Now there were at least 15 kids lined up on the street, looking as if some kind of parade was coming through the neighborhood. We slowly entered the empty, dull house, staring at the bare walls where picture frames use to be hung. We traveled from room to room, saying goodbye to each one. When we reached the basement we had caught a glimpse at our handprints we had imprinted on the walls years before. Satisfied with our marks we had left, we exited the dark, dusty basement and walked back outside.

The entire driveway was full with people from ages 8 to 50. All looked miserable, some with tears running down their faces. The adults tried to stay strong for the kids, but the women were having a hard time accomplishing this. Just as things were getting depressing, a bird swooped down and left a nice white patch of goo on a man’s head. This lightened up the moment a bit.

Once the huge moving trucks were packed and departed we placed the anxious dog into the car and decided it was time to leave. We slowly gave each and every person a hug, giving up on trying to hold back tears. My family and I all entered the car and slowly drove away waving, when suddenly I noticed something strange occurring. All the children were running after the car, begging us not to leave. I think for a second, I expected my father to stop driving. I turned away, looking at my parents. “I didn’t think this was actually going to happen,” I said, as we drove out of the warm neighborhood and off into the sunset towards the sweet country hills of Stafford, Virginia.

Stafford, Virginia was not anything like Chicago, Illinois. To start with, it was a lot warmer and less windy. The farther away we drove from Chicago the stronger the Virginian accent grew. We experienced this at multiple rest stops and gas stations during our move. “You guys,” quickly changed to “yah’ll,” and “pop,” turned into “soda.” I remember going to a movie theatre in Virginia for the first time and asking for some pop. The idiots there thought I was asking for popcorn and I realized these people obviously didn’t get around much. Apparently they didn’t have enough time to go to a dentist either, because a large number of people were missing teeth.

The house in Virginia we were building would not be ready for a few months. Therefore we were forced to stay in a cheap, town house. For me, this was a huge change. I never was use to having to share a room with my dirty, irresponsible little sister. The size of the entire house was like stacking two of my old bedrooms on top of each other. I felt smothered, crowded and uncomfortable and received little privacy.

The new house was coming along, and we would visit it frequently during the week. I’d walk through the cemented walls and long pieces of wood, imagining our bedrooms and family rooms, and where we would place our belongings. I was becoming excited and impatient and was longing to run through the huge, greatly spaced rooms, with the brand new smell of fresh paint and perfectly smooth soft carpet. Everyone in the neighborhood received a large amount of land and the houses were placed a lot farther apart compared to the old neighborhood. I expected that no one in this new place would ever become as close as it had been before.
Almost every house in the neighborhood had a pool or hot tub in the backyard, and few had swing sets for the many small children living in each house. Beautiful trees and landscapes were set up all around the houses, and the roads at night remained dark, being lit up only by the stars, instead of street lights on each corner. The high school I attend is connected to one of the streets, making it easy to walk to and from various football and baseball games. My friends and I occasionally sneak out at night, jump the fence, and run through the large sprinklers watering the wide Wildcat football field.

The day we moved into the house, a neighbor came over with a load of boxes for us. This man, the kindest, most generous person I probably will ever meet, was living next door with his wife and two small girls, who I would eventually start babysitting. The beautiful new house began to feel like home, and our families grew closer together. We became so close that it was likely to forget we weren’t related. To this day we still are very close, and have even gone on a few vacations together. All the neighbors continue to be very sociable. The wives have their bunko nights where they chit chat and share meals, while the men have their poker parties, where they stay up till 3 a.m. struggling to keep control of their family’s money.

The older I become the more I began to appreciate this house and neighborhood. At the time, I thought moving would be one of the most devastating experiences I would ever go through. Now, I wouldn’t change it for the world, and looking back, I don’t regret moving. It’s one of the better things in my life that has happened. It’s given me the chance to meet many amazing people, go to an excellent school, and move into a loving community and neighborhood. Of course, memories have been carried into this new house too. Good ones, really good ones.

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