They are just a pair of stairs that I walked on everyday.
Where my dogs would jump and yelp to welcome me home. They lead to a little white house in the middle of the country. They are worn and creaky, the way old wood gets over the years. It is where I fell and scraped my knees countless times and stayed out on summer nights with a good friend by my side. Where I rode my bike and played catch with the neighbors. Where I called home.
It is just a winding road that curved through our little town. Tractors carrying freshly cut golden hay often blocked the way, signifying summer. The neighbors wave as you pass. Neighbors are more like friends, and friends are more like family.
It is just old dirt path that leads to a pond. The one with algae, frogs, and a few fish. The one my best friend dared me to jump into. I obliged and cannon balled in without hesitation. It became the weekend place to meet, swim and throw mud at each other, laughing until the sun set behind the trees and it was time for dinner.
It is just a plain tree house that became whatever I dreamed up that day. There were princes and princesses, cowboys and Indians, and even the occasional fairy to keep me company. I protected it with sticks that became swords and rocks that became cannons.
It is just a plaid couch that I sat on everyday. It resided in the living room where forts were built, VHS tapes were watched, and the Christmas tree was put every year. There were countless spills, scrapes, and stains from the years, but it gave it character and love.
It is just an old kitchen with linoleum floors. Where I would sit in the morning, soaking up the heat from the floor vent. Where my mom made dinner every evening, navigating the small stove like an expert. Where I would come home, sit on the counter and chat with her about my day.
It is just a small garage where there was no room for a car. It had a television that connected to our three channels. It was where my dog had eight black lab puppies and they learned to walk. On the side hung the basketball hoop that entertained my brother and I for hours. It was where my mother would spend her evenings, the warm summer air tainted by the cigarette smoke, her breath wreaking of alcohol.
It is just an angel painting that hung on the living room wall. It watched us go through the years and live our lives. It saw me learn how to draw, read and write. It saw me have my first crush and my first heartbreak. It was there during the intervention and watched my heart break in a way no boy could cause.
It is just a white car. One I cherished because it meant freedom to a 16-year-old. It was often filled to the brim with friends and dogs as we headed out to the lake. I felt both freedom and heavy guilt the day I packed the trunk with my clothes, unsure if I would ever be back again. And I wouldn’t be.
It is just a small bedroom where I read my books and framed my pictures. Where each item in my room meant something to me, from the golden bear my grandma gave me, to my best friend necklace hanging on a hook, to the red walls I painted myself. It was just a room, but it was abandoned the day I left my home forever. The bear, the necklace, and the red walls untouched.
It is just a blue house in the middle of the city. It felt foreign and empty, lacking in life. It was home to strangers, one of them who shared my blood. I would call him Dad, but I could never call this home.
Home is a little white house in the middle of the country. Where neighbors are like friends, and friends are like family.
I wonder sometimes if going back there would help me feel whole again.
But they are just a pair of stairs.