It’s funny the way that your childhood home shapes the way that you perceive that concept for the rest of your life. My childhood home was nestled in the hills, a peaceful getaway from the busy-ness of school and activities. It was the perfect place to grow up.
Time marches on, however, and my parents are moving out of this house after 15 years of living there. I am sure that this new season will be as fruitful as the last, but it will be different. When I think about all the friends we hosted there, all the moments we spent together planning and decorating, the way the garden has flourished over more than a decade of careful cultivation– I am filled with immense gratitude.
It’s a little scary to let this house go, even if it was not my own to begin with. I may never live in a place quite like it again, and in a way, there’s a loss. But what I do have are memories, and those memories come flooding back whenever those reminders come across my path. I’ll be holding on to those reminders– and the people that make it so significant.
10 Simple Things That Remind Me Of Home
1) Trees that blossom.
Every spring, the plum blossoms would emerge first, their sweet perfume drifting through the crisp morning air. Then they would burst into a rich magenta as the cherry, crabapple and pear blossoms began to bud. Each tree would take turns blooming, drawing in bees and butterflies, and then shedding their petals like snow.
2) Abstract art.
My parents had a lot of abstract art in the long hallway in our house. Leaf prints, multi-media pieces, and continuous paintings decorated our walls. We’ve been lucky enough to fill our own home with some of these paintings, and looking at them always brings me back to that hallway.
3) Afternoon sunlight.
Our dining room was filled with light in the afternoon– perfect for a cup of hot tea or a glass of white wine, and a great place to study. The shadows of trees would be cast on the floor, moving with the breeze through the open sliding door.
4) Koi ponds.
We were never really “dog people” or “cat people,” but we had a pond full of fish. They all had names and distinct patterns, and many of them are still alive. Whenever I see koi ponds, I think of our first little school of four fish who tested out the pond when it was first built. Soon we had brought in more than 20 fish, and they proceeded to multiply themselves as the years went by.
5) Maple trees.
My parents both loved maple trees, so I grew up with an appreciation for a well-pruned maple. When we visited Japan, we were blown away by the shapes of the maples there: perfectly imperfect, asymmetrical, zen. There is something so peaceful about the maple leaf in its slender, elegant form.
6) Steep roads.
Living in the hills is generally delightful, but even a walk down the street feels like a hike. Whenever I drive through rolling hills now, though, I think of those days when going out and coming home involved a series of ups and downs. The waves of landscape came to bear the signs of the seasons: baby grasses in spring, mustard flowers in summer, leaves in fall, and barren dirt in winter.
There is one wisteria plant that hangs over the trellis of the entrance to our home, and it produces the most fragrant white flowers. Our wisteria have caused not insignificant amounts of heartache, as they can be quite difficult to grow. But those draping chains of flowers are my favorite. They are the absolute perfect climbing plant.
8) Cozy kitchens.
My mom and I spent a lot of time chatting in our kitchen. It wasn’t a fancy space, but it had everything we needed: stools, chocolates and a hot water dispenser for herbal teas. We laughed there, cried there, argued there, and put together many Thanksgiving meals there. I dream of a kitchen large enough to accommodate more than just two people, so we can recreate more of those precious moments together.
9) Indoor slippers.
We didn’t allow shoes in the house, but– as is customary in many Asian families– we offered slippers. I spent most of my time at home barefoot, but gave slippers to any guests who were uncomfortable exposing their feet. Whenever I see indoor slippers, I’m reminded of this fun little tradition.
One of my favorite memories with my dad is lighting the fireplace for winter parties. We had several in the house, and I always preferred the ones that burned real wood. Despite the smoke, there was something exciting about adding more wood, stoking the embers, and watching the sparks float up through the chimney.
I’m going to miss this home. Even though I haven’t lived there for many years now, it’s always been just a drive or flight away. But as I’m learning to hold onto relationships more than I hold onto things, I realize that what made our home truly wonderful were the moments we spent enjoying each other. And we can always have more of those.