In all honesty, I might know my grandparents’ house better than I know my own. I know the rocky pool deck from afternoons with my cousins, reading good books and talking about life. I know the pampas grass on the bayou, and have spent long hours beside it, raking leaves and carefully avoiding fire ants. I know the neighborhood cats, the rusty and faded old gas pump, the cacti inhabiting the windowsills.
But I haven’t been there in over a year, and at this point it’s apparent that I’ll never return.
My granddad worked for the Shell Oil Company, my grandma was a Home Economics major. The two of them met at Oregon State University, as they were both working for the school paper. They got married, had two children, and moved around the country until they finally settled in the house that means so much to me; a house on the outskirts of Houston, backing Buffalo Bayou and nestled near a small elementary school. A house which, over the next 43 years, would become a home — for my grandparents, for my mom and uncle, and even for me.
All my life, I’ve heard stories about the Houston house. I’ve heard tales of the baby alligator in the backyard, of summers so hot my mother and her brother jumped into the pool fully clothed, of April Fools Day pranks played on my grandma. Time and time again, I was told the stories of the house, and every word brought me closer to my family.