A letter to my childhood home

Photo of a house
Emilie Harris/Staff

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Dear childhood home, 

I saw it coming. I can’t lie to you and say that I didn’t. 

After 10 years of living in Bahrain, I knew my mom and dad would eventually want to leave the Middle East. I guess I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. When I left for college, I didn’t realize how little time we’d have together. 

I remember going for dinner at the dining hall a couple months ago when my mom told me. As I was settling down with my food, she broke the news that they were leaving you. They didn’t know where they were going yet, they just knew they weren’t staying. 

At the time, I felt pretty indifferent about it. Amid classes and assignments, as well as being halfway through my personal transition into life in a completely new environment, I didn’t feel like I could really bring myself to process it. Honestly, I also didn’t really want to mope over the loss, especially knowing that I wasn’t there for those final moments with you. 

Being 8,000 miles away made it considerably easier to just ignore that it was happening. 

But when my flight to Bahrain landed a couple of weeks ago, and I began my drive home, I realized just how difficult this would be for me. That would be my final time driving back to you from college. Obviously, I’ll continue to visit my parents in their new home in Switzerland, but it will no longer be the childhood home that I recognized. 

Physical surroundings play a fundamental role in our memories. With all of my memories tied to this one place, it becomes extremely difficult to say goodbye. You were there to celebrate so many accomplishments: finishing my finals, getting my driver’s license, graduating high school or even being accepted into college. 

You were the place I brought all my friends. You gave me a space to be myself in front of the people I love. You were there for so many special occasions and so many celebrations. Some of my greatest memories of all time are the lunches and gatherings that we had with family friends at home. For my eighteenth birthday, I remember being asked if I wanted to go anywhere special to celebrate… but I didn’t. There was something uniquely memorable about parties with family and friends at home. You gave us the freedom to turn the event into whatever we wanted, without any self-consciousness about being watched by others. Everyone always felt so relaxed when they came over, and you always knew how to light up a room. 

You were the place where we started our family band. You were the place that provided comfort during the months of lonely and seemingly eternal COVID-19 isolation. You were the place I knew I could run to if I ever felt scared or anxious. 

I’ll miss the familiarity more than anything. As I help my family pack boxes upon boxes, I know that I will soon be visiting a house that I won’t really consider home like I did with you. Unlike my siblings, who will soon celebrate their own achievements in that new house, I’ll be visiting during the summer and winter holidays. The new house won’t really care for me and protect me in the same way you did. It will simply consider me a transient visitor. 

There will come a day when I fall in love with a new home, I know that. I just don’t think I was ready to say goodbye to you just yet. 

Don’t ever forget us. 

With love, 

Goodbye.  

 

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].