By: Eva Bacon

Oftentimes, it’s said that people make a home, not the place. But when I look at the moss-ridden brown of the front porch that has kissed the faces of all my shoes, from kindergarten to college—green and red strawberry-shaped lights hung haphazardly around the belly of my parent’s beige house from three Christmases ago, with an eggplant-colored roof and shutters and door—I am inclined to disagree. 

As I step into the entranceway, residence of summertime ants with pomegranate bellies that hide in the overstuffed closet, and hang my coat on the rack to the right, over-loved with my mother’s thousands of jackets, I question the validity of such a statement. 

As I sink into the couch, leather soft and brown like tree bark after rain, and see the faces of all my family in the bear-studded and crayon-drawn picture frames of photos taken long ago, I wonder if it’s true. There’s something to be said of a home in the green, phosphorescent fingers of the money trees we never water, clawing for the sun as it breaks through the rightmost wall, and the huge, shared sill of three windows that opens the beige house to the rest of the quiet street—the sill that used to be the abode of tiny dolls my cousin gave me. 

What would they think, those dolls? Is the sill, with its fake potted plants and fly carcasses, a home to them? Are their rubber dresses and boots, their purple cars and fuchsia limousines, their plastic mirrors and brushes, a home to them? Or is the vaguely defined term of “home” not any of those things, but each other, buried in a hot pink and green-swirled box in the bottom row of an upstair’s cabinet, only themselves to listen to the echo of childhood? 

I hunger for something unexplainable as I amble into the open hallway (brown carpet, white chairs, litterbox) that leads to the kitchen. Maybe what I crave is space. I have never liked the cluttered island: the stickiness of the cabinets, and the stains on the tangerine, octagonal linoleum—forever bruised. Three tall, ebony chairs on the right side of the island, my mother’s non-traditional desk; water-perishable objects with steel insides like the coffee maker and the toaster and the microwave; the sink and the cavernous hole that was once the dishwasher on the other. 

Counters that can’t be kept clean. Cutting board with scars. Still there is a home here, in the spices used to flavor my favorite foods; the air fryer, the rice cooker, and the oven used to make them. The old white refrigerator from my adolescence I used to decorate so meticulously with magnets. The green wallpaper with vertical strings of pink flowers, on which is embedded a wooden carving of The First Supper. The cushioned seats around the table hold the Thanksgivings and birthdays of thirteen years. Even in the Elvis Presley calendar by the window, and the piles of shoes by the door. 

As the people I love vacate this house, and I leave for another house—a house I hope will match the one I have envisioned, again and again, in my mind—I will remember this place, because it was where the dreams of that house were born. This is the place that I dredged up these words in, legs crossed and seated in my bedroom with my Zelda lamp and old toys and stacks of books. This is where I dreamed of running away from the town that holds this beige house on cracked, empty roads, to a life I yearn for, desperately, but am not ready to live. 

I think back to the money tree, the yellow counters and the tiny dolls, and know that love is not definite. It cannot be limited. People can be a home, and love spills out of people, taking the shapes of dusty bookshelves and a bean bag chair in the living room where my mother sits and watches Jackie Chan on the TV, fingers sticky with the residue of rice from dinner, air rich with the smokey smell of fish. Where my friends sprawl, laughing beneath the blue light of their phones. Where I sit with my cat, sandpaper tongue on the skin of my pinkie, as I press led to paper. Pouring, pouring, pouring, until a beige house is a home, too.