My grandma's house had two bedrooms, one bathroom. She and my pawpaw raised four children in that house. Someone was always staying there, whether permanently or temporarily, and it always seemed like there were way more people in the house than there was room. My grandma, however, was known for being a champion housekeeper, and somehow, her tiny house always seemed cozy, always comfortable, always safe. When I think of that house, the memory that instantly comes to mind is being a little girl tucked into my grandma's giant king-size bed with the windows open to let the breeze float through and the distant murmur of the television or grown-ups talking. I remember lying in bed waiting for the sound of the train whistle from the tracks at the bottom of my grandma's street. I would lie there, warm and cozy, and think of the train and where it was going and who was on it and what it was carrying as I drifted off to sleep. Just as vividly, I remember spending dusk running around the yard trying to catch fireflies with my cousins, cupping them in our hands and peering in to see if they would light up, or putting them in a jar to watch them perform.
What has surprised me most about this new house is how much it reminds me of my grandma's. The creaky floors, the one bathroom, the small bedrooms, the giant trees all around, the coziness of it. One of our first nights here, I looked out the bathroom window to see a light show in the backyard. Hundreds of fireflies blinking and twinkling in the pitch black. I called Joe and we must have watched them for a solid ten minutes, appreciating the show. This house also doesn't have air conditioning, which luckily has been fine since we've had an incredibly mild summer this year. But it means we've been sleeping under a light quilt with the windows open, letting the breeze float through. More than one night, I've laid awake in bed, feeling safe and cozy and surrounded by fresh air, thinking of my grandma and how familiar this feels. All that's missing is the train whistle. Then one night, I heard it. Off in the distance, unmistakably, there was the train whistle from tracks that are about 5 miles from our house. Hi, grandma, there you are.
It feels too perfect. I get to bring my baby girl home to a house that reminds me so much of the place where I felt safest and the most loved when I was little. I will get to chase fireflies with her in the backyard and teach her to peer in to her little fist to see them light up. I will get to put her to bed with the windows open and wonder if she'll listen for the train whistle and wonder about where it is going and who is on it and what it's carrying as she drifts off to sleep. I get to bring her home to a place where I can feel my grandma all around us.
Little girl, who will have her name. And who will grow up over a thousand miles from my grandma's house but will still somehow get to be a part of it.