"House" and "Home" are two distinctly different words, and yet they are surprisingly interchangeable in modern-day conversations. So interchangeable that even I had to do a double-take and think before I spoke, doing my best to make sure I was relaying what I really meant and not just what it sounded like.
While Senegal will always be a place I call "home", I've come to realize just how often certain people can begin to feel like "home" too. While physical buildings may have homey atmospheres, they are just "houses" at their core. It's the people who live within its walls that can turn it into a temporary "home".
As I resume my journey in finding closure from 3, 683 miles away from "home", I thought it fitting to write this next letter to the "house - turned - home" that I lived in for 10 years.
Hold my memories.
Don't forget that I once walked through your halls, ran up your steps, and danced in your living room with reckless abandon on Saturday mornings. Don't forget the long showers I used to take or the way I'd yell for a family member who was only a room away - just because it echoed. Don't forget the slip-n-slide adventures that Faith and I had on your patio or the smells of the numerous things we'd create in the kitchen together.
Hold my memories and don't forget about me.
Remember the sound of my laughter echoing up the stairwells. Remember my smile.
Remember the way I used to spend an hour or two watering your flowers when really all I was trying to do was make pretty doodles on your white walls with the hose in the heat of the afternoon sun. Remember the watermelon that we never planted (on purpose) and Daddy rescued from the painters.
Remember all the times I sat in a plastic chair on your roof for family prayer on a Sunday evening. Remember the sound of my hoots and hollers on the night of New Year's Eve as I watched the sky light up with colors from nearby fireworks.
Remember the countless hours I'd spend on your roof washing and hanging laundry in the sunshine. Remember my weight as I sat down on your handmade swing and the way I would pretend I was flying.
Remember the nostalgia I felt as I put my dad's steel tip boots on in my bedroom. Remember the many pictures that were taken in my room over the years.
Remember the bittersweet mingle of emotions in the air as I said goodbye to a dear friend, and posed for pictures for the high school graduation I'd never have. Remember the swish of my gown against your leafy bushes.
Remember the way I'd crawl into bed after a long day of school. Remember the hours I'd spend journaling or reading under the breeze of a fan.
Remember the last packing list I ever wrote within your walls as I scrambled around the house trying to collect ten years of memories into four 50 pound duffel bags. Remember the tears I cried and the frustration I felt about having to leave you so many months earlier than I had planned. Remember how hard I tried to remember that I was following God's will for my life.
My dear dear house,
Remember these things with me, and hold my memories.
Don't forget about me, because I can promise you that the ten years we spent together were the best I ever had.