Not Just Ketchup-Stained Walls

May 25, 2008
By Becky Mandelbaum, Wichita, KS

Many people believe that home is where the heart is. However, because I am certain that my heart resides inside of my chest cavity, I am left with a diferent definition of home. To me, home is the place where my mom wakes me up in the morning by singing the most cliché of all Jewish songs, ‘Dreidle Dreidle’. It is where my dog, Romeo, searches day and night to find the perfect sweater or blanket on which to urinate. It is the place where moldy foods from the early ninties can be found hidden within the dark depths of the refrigerator. It is where my friends break into on summer afternoons to wake me up when they think that I have wasted too much time sleeping.

There is no place in all of Kansas, in all of the United States, in all of the world, that brings me as much comfort as does my house. It is not an elegant house by any standards. Each couch is decorated with stains and the indentations made by lazy behinds. The chairs in the kitchen by no means match the table, and their rolling feet make for entertaining rides around the scratched wooden floor. The ground is scattered with landmines of the same delapidated toys that my dog has dragged around the house for years. Sure enough, the guest room is covered with the clothes of my friends who have too many possessions to notice that an entire months worth of shirts and bras layer the room’s carpet.

I take a certain pride in my home, as do my mom and two brothers. It is a part of our family after all. When we leave for short vacations my mom will blow it a kiss and say, “Goodbye house!”. Of course when we return, even if the trip was only a day long, we greet it and thank it as if we were old friends who have not spoken for years. There is an unmistakable feeling that accompanies being home. There is no relief like that of walking into my living room, plopping myself down on the couch and simply knowing that the same walls that have protected me for almost nine years still stand with determination around me.

I believe that home is where family is, where safety is, where comfort is. I believe it is where inhabitions have never dared to reveal themselves, where emotions cease to be filtered and can be translated purely. It is where midnight scrabble tournaments are held and brothers squirt ketchup at eachother. It is where my friends try to microwave raw eggs. It is where cobwebs and dust bunnies are tucked safely into the corners. It is where a blanket and a good book are never far away. Home is where happiness is. It is where sadness is. It is where I am allowed to strip myself of everything synthetic and reveal myself as who I truly am. Home is when architecture captures a personality and morphs into a beloved member of a family.

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