I’ve always felt at home everywhere I’ve settled down. I even feel at home in my small Santa Cruz apartment with my twin-sized bed and little pillows I’ve owned since I was 10.
Truthfully, I’ve felt at home in every single dorm room I lived in, from my tiny shoebox dorm room in Crown to my beautiful, sun-drenched dorm room in Merrill. I felt at home at my cousin’s apartment in San Francisco where I spent nearly a whole summer. I felt at home in the car that I’ve driven ever since I’ve gotten my driver’s license, and I’ve even felt at home at the desk where I work at ITS.
But, despite this feeling of constantly being at home, there are three places that I know, are home.
The first is the home I was born in. The taste of the air is faint in my memory. What the hardwood felt like under my feet, how big our kitchen was. I suppose since I was so young, there weren’t enough memories for me to cling to of our little home.
I remember my childhood from my childhood home.
Not in big waves defined by age. But in smaller memories with the people that raised me.
I remember sitting in my father’s lap as he drove our old Highlander into the garage after we washed it. I begged him to let me use the steering wheel. My mother came out with the camera to take a photo of us washing the car, and I have that photo hung up somewhere—us smeared with frothy white bubbles because I was more interested in the soap than I was in actually washing the car.
My brother was doing a lollipop fundraiser for his high school baseball team and four-year-old me wanted a lollipop so badly. My father reminded me that those weren’t our lollipops and that I’d have to pay for them. I ran to the very small kitchen where we kept loose change and dug out a dime. When I presented my brother with the dime, he laughed and gave me a lollipop. I don’t know if that’s how much the lollipop actually costs, We still have that set of drawers, and I think it’s really the only reason why I remember this because I hardly remember what the kitchen looked like in that house. It sits on our butler’s pantry in our current home, and every time I open the coin drawer, I fondly think about that moment.
That same year, or maybe it was the year before, or maybe after, I refused to go to the Fourth of July fireworks at my brother’s high school. My father, brother, and I were just about to leave and I was getting my shoes on when my father tied my shoes. And I cried. I refused to go to the fireworks show. I wanted to be a big girl and tie my shoes all on my own, and how dare my father take that away from me! My mom sat on our very old couch and stared at me as I crossed my arms stubbornly and sat on our hardwood floor. They left, and I resigned myself to watching Dora the Explorer on our very very old television set. My mother brought me juice in one of my sippy cups, and we waited patiently for my father and brother to return. I do remember feeling a little jealous when my father and brother got home, but those small feelings were overpowered with my pride.
I was five years old when we left that home, and while my memories of that home are few and far between, I refuse to let them fade from my mind.
There was a limbo between the homes my family owned, and I spent a few months with my grandparents at theirs. Those years are a little fuzzy, that time that I spent not just visiting grandparents, but living with them.
I remember my entire life from my grandparents house.
It’s defined by seasons stretched over so many years they begin to blur, and perhaps some memories are a little faded, but there’s so many images and scents and feelings, I doubt I’d ever forget this home.
I know that home like the back of my hand. Which stairs creak and how many steps it takes for me to get to my grandparents room from the one I shared with my parents. I feel like I know that house so well, my mind becomes overrun with memories.
I remember waking up one school day with a fever and my mom letting me stay home with my grandparents. My grandmother let me stay in their big, king-sized bed all day and she made me warm top-ramen for lunch. I watched Family Feud and Judge Judy with her as she spoon-fed me broth. I don’t remember feeling particularly awful, and I’m sure that had everything to do with my grandparents.
I spent every single summer in that two-story house, in the bedroom that used to be my mother’s, with the big garden that had a jasmine vine in the backyard. Every morning my cousin, Darshanie, and I would rise from the bed we shared in my mother’s old room, help my grandfather make morning coffee with their ancient coffee maker, and bring it upstairs for us to drink with my grandmother in their bedroom. There were two red chairs separated by a coffee table, where Darshanie and I would sit in front of. My grandmother would make Darshanie and I sit on pillows instead of just the carpet because she thought it was dirty. My grandfather sat on the right hand side, with his harmonia (an Indian piano) and cassette tapes all neatly lined behind him, my grandmother on the left, the TV on a dresser playing tennis behind her. I remember my grandfather dipping his toast in his coffee and teaching Darshanie and I to do the same.
I was still five when we left their home and moved into our forever home. But, throughout my life, I’d continue to spend weeks on end with my grandparents in their home that I love so much. My memories from this home are endless, and they are so dear to my heart.
My home, the home I’ve spent the last 15 years in, burns bright in my mind. The walls my father painted so long ago, the family portrait from my brother’s engagement party, the carpet in the family room where he and I took countless naps. I suppose since I’ve spent so many years in those four walls, my memories blend together, all tinged with the sweet scent of unconditional love.
I remember my entire life, outlined by small moments, in my parent’s dream home.
I remember painting my bedroom walls two tones of pink and moving an old couch into my room so I could have a ‘lounge’ space. I remember my entire family so dedicated to ensuring that my bedroom was a place that I wanted to be in.
I remember a week or so before I left for college, I rearranged my room one last time. It was as though I was trying to cling to some semblance of control I could muster. Still, that rearrangement so close to me leaving made me feel separate from little Ashti.
I remember having nearly every family holiday at our house. I remember trying out my famous chicken pot pie recipe for the first time (which is now a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition), and my father watching me, terrified, over my shoulder. I remember the red and gold Christmas decorations we put up every year that we’d never take down until February.
I remember when we started feeding the stray cats that lounged in our backyard. I remember the first day we got to pet Baby Syrup, and I remember watching my father fall in love with our future pet. I named all of the cats that came around, and I remember the first time one of the stray cats died. We’ve only had one casualty, and I hope it stays that way.
I’m graduating this year and I don’t exactly know where I’m going to end up or where my next home is going to be. I don’t know if I’m going to live at home until I’m married, or move in with my best friend to an apartment we can hardly afford. I don’t know if my parents are thinking of downsizing and will abandon our current home.
I do know this: my memories of my three homes are forever. They might mesh and mold as I get older, but they will remain in my mind for me to return to, and I will return, always.