Western Springs College student Alice d'Andrea's story 'Still home' recalls the feeling of revisiting a childhood home.
Through the tunnel into the light, into the Impasse de la Livree.
Tall, slender she stands,
unchanged since last I visited three years ago.
Except for maybe a little more water damage making a dark stain on her stone facade,
and more of the ivy creeping past the front door and reaching up to the wooden shutters of the upstairs room.
Coming back still feels like coming home even though I was small when we left and I have no memory of my own of living here. But I’ve visited before and
I’ve heard stories of my infancy in the house
Me, making mischief even then,
determinedly crawling across the wide pine floorboards to punch the buttons on the within-reach radio.
Me, snatching at my papa’s hair through the risers in the spiral staircase.
Me, here, taking loud messy baths in a plastic tub on the small front landing.
The house, three stories tall with steep stairs, definitely not suitable for a baby.
But baby-proofed from every angle when I arrived in 2005.
Concrete steps climb to the front door, retrospectively equipped with a solid wooden gate.
That gate now greying and decaying,
slowly giving in to the Mistral and the hot summers of the south of France.
Unlike the gate, the tough beams and local stone
(no doubt pilfered and recycled from ancient Roman remains)
mean the structure, that centuries ago was servant quarters for the Cardinal’s domestics,
is unbothered by the weather.
Made a home by memories, this place is solid.
She was home then, she is home now.