This isn’t my house. In fact I have never lived here.
I don’t have any roots. I don’t have a childhood house to run home to. There’s no specific structure that carries the stories of my childhood. I don’t have the privilege of saying, “This is where I grew up,” to my kids.
Yet home doesn’t necessarily denote physicality. In my heart I know that is true.
I know because I have a home wherever my parents are.
When I graduated from college, my dad got transferred to Newport. I chose to stay in Corpus Christi and go to graduate school. I still remember the first time I went to visit my parents in Newport. Daxson and I flew up to Rhode Island for a week at Thanksgiving time.
I remember imagining what it was going to feel like to visit my parents. As if I’d be a guest. You know how it is as a guest…you walk around with that bit of an unsettled feeling like you’re not completely comfortable because it isn’t your home. You feel awkward opening the refrigerator without an invitation. My imagination proved wrong. I remember walking in as if I belonged there. And perhaps in some way I did.
Then my dad retired and my parents relocated to Austin. And I wondered, again, if it would feel odd to visit them at their new house. But it didn’t. It felt just right. As if I had come home. Yet, I’d never lived with them in that house either.
That first year my parents lived in Austin, I spent my vacation weeks during the school year at their house. They nurtured me as if I had only been away on vacation when I came to visit. They opened up their home to me as if it was my home, too…as if I were an absent member when I was away. Su casa es mi casa.
Over the past decade we’ve made many trips up here. Most have been trips full of joy…trips to celebrate birthdays and holidays and hot summer days. But some have been trips of refuge.
When I had my first baby, I sought refuge here. I spent two weeks with a two month old baby nestled in the down comforter of the guest bedroom. My parents gave me space to enjoy that new baby without the day-to-day distractions of cooking, cleaning, and laundering. I brought Joseph often, always seeking comfort and refuge. A break from the daily grind. A moment to breathe peacefully surrounded by the comfort of home.
As I had more kids, our visits became shorter, but no less frequent. There’s something comforting about “going home.” Knowing that there’s going to be a hot meal, clean sheets and plenty of help makes the visit well worth the trip. But, of course, it’s more than just the physical benefits that make it a trip well traveled. It’s having someone to help, someone to listen, someone to laugh with, someone to remember the details of the stories that weave the fabric of your life.
I continue to find refuge here over and over again.
When I was pregnant with my fourth baby and we remodeled the kitchen and again later when we remodeled our bathrooms, I found refuge here. Sweet, quiet refuge away from the chaos of construction crews.
When my city had dirty water with a boil water alert, I found refuge here. Not once. Not twice. Three times. Clean water never seemed so luxurious as it did during those moments.
Now when Hurricane Harvey threatened to land in our city, I found refuge here once again. Safe and sound. Hundreds of miles away from the center of destruction.
I am quite thankful for such a lovely place of refuge. Somewhere that I am welcomed in over and over again. Somewhere that I can count on feeling safe, nurtured, taken care of. I may not have grown up in this particular house, but I grew up with these people and these people are my refuge.
(I hope someday my kids will say the same.)