The Gray House

I lived in several different houses as a kid. I remember the house where I didn’t know how to walk, I remember the house where my brother was born. At one point, I lived in a travel trailer, where my room was literally a bunk bed with a screen, and all my belongings and toys fit in a cardboard box.

When I lived in the travel trailer, I would pray with my mom and my brother for a real house, one with stairs, and an actual front door. We prayed for a house with a yard we could safely play in, where our feet wouldn’t be shocked by an electrical current. We prayed for a tree in our yard that we could build a tree-house in. We prayed for a kitchen, and our own rooms. That was back when we still prayed.

When I was six years old, we got a house, a real house. Call it fate, call it fortune, call it an answer to our prayers… I didn’t care, I was happy to have a house.

The gray paint was peeling, and a few boards were sticking out at odd angles. The bathroom was the size of a broom closet, and the stairs creaked at a feather’s touch. The entire thing was heated by a sole woodstove, and the vomit-colored carpet was torn up to reveal chilly wooden floors.

I loved it.

At last, a house, a real house!

I would race my brother up the noisy stairs, I would stand too close to the woodstove and burn my leg, I would talk to my mom in the office when I couldn’t sleep. I would play in the backyard and smell the grass, I would spend hours in the apricot tree that inhabited half of the yard, I would rearrange my room with all my new things because I could. I didn’t care that there was a leak in my room that ruined some of the prancing horses I had stenciled on my wall, or that the whole place smelled of damp and mildew, or that it wasn’t insulated for the first two years. It didn’t bother me that the house was angled oddly so the wind always sounded like a gale, even if it was just a breeze. I didn’t mind that the floors were slanted, or the faucets dripped, or the windows didn’t open.

It was a house, a real house, and it became my home.

A dog-yard was built for our Labrador-mix, and the back door led into the kitchen, which I remember being yellow, although I think it was white. The bathroom and laundry room were in that vicinity, too. The dining room held the woodstove and the office, which was red. Or at least, I think it was. Maybe the floor was red. The living room was next over, with the front door on the other side of the room. On more than one occasion, I would slide down the stairs in a laundry basket and launch myself into the front door. Upstairs were three rooms: my brother’s on the left, my parents’ in the middle, and mine on the right. I was elated when I learned I would finally have my own room!

When my parents divorced four years later, the house was sold. When I visit my siblings who live in the town I grew up in, I sometimes walk around the neighborhood and take a peek at my childhood home.

The broken boards have been fixed, and the whole thing was repainted a lighter color. The dog-yard was taken down, and the back door replaced. The gingko tree has grown strong, and the oak and apricot trees stand sentries to the backyard. Curtains have been put up, but I still stop and stare at my old window, remembering the view from inside the room during my late-night insomnia attacks.

As I walk past, I whisper to myself, “There it is; the gray house.”


The Daily Prompt asked about the houses we grew up in, so I chose one of many. I only have vague recollections of what happened during my time there, but I remember the house itself fairly well.

Do you remember your childhood home?


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