My Home Away from Home

A Memoir by LeQuita C. Harrison, written 9/20/2014

Comfort is serenity and safety which creates memories. I wouldn’t exclude my own home from this comfort because that is my foundation. It is the place I would run to if something bad would happened, but right now let me lure you towards another place of comfort. Grandma’s house is where my life truly began outside of my mother’s womb. Where I was drowned with precious smiles and hugs of love from those I am proud to call my family. My constant cries, smelly diapers, burps, and the first time I let go of the sofa to wobble across the living room carpet are far to reach for my mind. But for my family it’d seemed like yesterday I was being held in their arms, being smacked with kisses. How I would love to go back in time to watch little me enjoy a carefree life. Sitting on my grandmother’s cushioned white sofa with all eyes glancing at me to make sure my cheesy fingers didn’t ruin it. The white sofa should’ve been covered in plastic, but it’d probably ruin the moments shared in those days of 1995.

It was in this home when my grandmother welcomed my parents, Carlo and Gina to live with her until they found a home of their own. Grandma was always sweet like that. She would do anything for anyone if she had the strength to do it and would not complain. That is what I call that old time spirit when generosity and family always came first. To add the icing on the cake, grandma also has a twin sister who is exactly the same way with her house, so I know this has to be the only way, the truest way of keeping a family closely knitted. So as expected, Grandma Ernestine squeezed everyone into that brick town house with only three bedrooms and one bathroom. With great planning and gospel music bouncing off every wall, the little house accommodated her, my parents, my aunt, and I. I thank God my family got along or that house would not be standing today.

I remember as a toddler, I would sit on the sofa in my onesies pajamas or conquer someone’s bed to watch The Lion King over and over again until I fell asleep. Laughing and singing along to the music to the point where I’d know the songs and the lines by heart. And always on the side of me was a cup of apple juice the medicine to my anxiety or curiosity at that age because I know I was a talker, a wanderer. Where there’s good memories there are always bad ones too. I fell down the stairs once, long ago in grandma’s house. Something traumatic enough for someone to stay away from that house, but miraculously I didn’t break a single bone. Only the great God in Heaven received my thanks for saving my life for I would not be as healthy and alive as I am today without Him. Now when I walk down the steps I have a knack of holding on to the railing. When my family finally moved into our own house I still couldn’t stay away from grandmother’s house. It was my second home during a year in middle school when I needed to use her zip code to go to this school we thought was good until I found myself in the center of wildcats. I was on the verge of explosion when the results led to me transferring and returning home.

It’s not hard to find this house which is the best part of it. Built with dark red bricks and a rough green roof, it sits as the corner house on the row of homes with a silver fence and chopped grass; thanks to my dad who always goes there to keep the front from turning into a jungle. As you approach the porch you are immediately greeted by an abundance of flowers- fake or real- it doesn’t matter. And because grandma’s house is on the corner she’d have the perfect vantage point to the streets ahead. So the door would already be unlocked and she’d be back in the kitchen cooking. Cabbage, the ever present seasoned smell of Grandma fixing her favorite vegetable would ignite the house. The funniest part about it was that I grew to enjoy it except when she added turkey necks. I just can’t see how people can eat the neck of the turkey, but I do know one thing. I love to stare at grandma and every one eat them, smacking their lips and biting off meat that I would have overlooked.

Time has flown by to the point where I have moments of standing in the house to regain my bearings. You’d think the house would’ve been long sold to some family who’d go in and change the grape carpets and splash foul colors onto the smooth white walls. After months of trying to sell the house to no prevail, God thank you, the house still belongs to grandma. Twenty-three years grandma with the occupancy of my Aunt Tylvia had kept the house from crackling. Though, much of its interior had changed, the furnishing as well as a flat screen that kicked the floor model out the door, the house still possesses its comfort.

Now as I walk into the little house, everything felt to have shrunk. The huge living room only takes me five steps to enter the dining room. And the kitchen I once helped make grandma’s secret recipe of corn pudding can only take two people at a time. Once upon a time there was freedom to roam now it’s been replaced with chores and responsibilities. Though, this would send any young person running, it still kept me close. Of all the things my grandmother had done for me and my family, there will never be a day to fully pay her back. I may have outgrown the house, but my heart has not just yet.

You would think with so many people who come to visit every day, we’d be an inconvenience, but no, everyone is still embraced with the same love and joy. The greatest characteristics of grandma I try to imitate every day. At times I’d hear her singing gospel hymns to herself and I know she’s having a great day especially when her voice elevates and unknown notes and pitches are created. With her Cherokee red cheeks she’d cast you a smile you cannot ignore or refrain from giving back. Her heart lives in her house, filled with an abundance of respect. Honor is due to Grandma Ernestine for keeping her sweet spirit and passing encouragement onto others.

To this day, my comfort place is grandma’s house. When time gets rough and I need to settle down in a peaceful environment, or when a birthday must be celebrated, or the family needs to be reunited for dinner, it’s here I would visit. So warm, free, welcoming, peaceful, and filled with love, this is my home away from home.


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