By Leighton Tanaka, TIWP Student

I am a home. I have housed thousands of people. Within these walls that have been torn down and rebuilt time and time again. Walls that have been repainted a thousand different hues and touched by a thousand different hands. I have witnessed many families come and go, I have watched proudly as they grow up within the sanctuary I hope I can provide. I have tried to raise them as best I can, just as people have raised my roof and fixed my broken parts.

I have watched babies cry, toddlers whine, teenagers brood and parents grieve all in the dreary emptiness of a home that has lived a thousand different lives. I have gazed sadly at torn marriages, smiled gleefully at new beginnings, and mourned the loss of those who had cared for me so long. I have watched wonderful people grow hateful just as I have seen miserable souls heal.

When the weather grows cold I try my best to keep them warm, even if they have forgotten to pay the bills. When the night is dark I urge them to look to the sky and remember that even with the lights off a myriad of stars still look upon them and smile as they shine. When the wind blows I brave them for them as I look fearfully at the coming storm.

I have housed rats, skunks, racoons and other animals I’d rather forget. I have observed the greed, ego, and cruelty of humanity as well as the numerous moments of kindness. I cherish the love that happens inside my walls, I attempt to cast away the clashes. However, the sad truth is that you need both in order to truly live as a human.

When comfort is needed it is with regret that I am reminded that I am unable to give it. I am just a house, with walls and a roof, an open door, and closed windows. I must house my own feelings inside of myself, unable to vent it. I am powerless against a tornado that may tear me from the ground or a tree that may puncture my sanctuary. And I do not grieve the loss of a beautiful structure, instead I grieve my failure as a house, meant to protect.

Once was a brutal battle that spattered my memory with blood. My windows were broken, the door unhinged, the innocent, happy family I kept safe got dragged away. Shamefully, I observed the incident in my involuntary silence. That day I wanted to scream, yet I couldn’t. Instead I could only stare at my broken windows and I let my seemingly safe walls groan and wail. I collapsed in my fury, I hadn’t meant to collapse, but I did. I cradled the remains of a home frozen in time.

I was not a home any longer, though I was a house. With four walls and a roof, a splintered door and shattered windows. A house left in shambles, a house meant to rot.

And yet I was rebuilt and so the cycle starts again. A new family for me to raise, this time I swore I would do it right. Because they are all my family too.

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