It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our house for almost eleven years now. In the early days it was just the two of us and a cat. Every noise echoed off of the hardwood floors and plain white walls and ceilings. I still remember those days, but they seem more like a dream than reality when I try to recall them now.

Today, the walls are painted various colors and lined with paintings. The rooms are filled with furniture, toys, and books. There are children, large dinners, and parties. We have sleepovers, raise chickens, attempt to train two dogs, and maintain a garden and a pool. The house, almost four times bigger than our old one, is monstrous to take care of—managing it often feels like preparing for an intergalactic launch—but the walls and space somehow shrink with the noise and chaos that seems to fill virtually every moment of every day.

My nine-year-old son says he never wants us to move. I have mixed feelings…I want to be in a warmer climate some day, but I don’t really want to leave our home either. Someone who moved a lot once told me that a house is just a structure, nothing more than a shell without further meaning or purpose. But I cannot agree. I still remember standing down in the dirt ditch that was dug for the foundation and trying to visualize the finished product. I remember running my hand over newly installed granite countertops and imagining myself cooking in the kitchen.

A house that’s a home is blood, sweat, tears, frustration, hopes, and dreams. It comes alive with the people who live in it and the memories they create. Sometimes, when the sun filters through the windows just right, you can see all of the tiny imperfections—like glue smeared and dried at the corner of wallpaper, a nick in the wall at the end of a hallway, or scratches on the hardwood floors. It’s then that you remember when the wallpaper was hung, your gaze moves to the television the delivery guys bounced off the sheetrock the day it arrived, and you realize those scratches in the floor still happen each time the dogs begin to jump around in an attempt to dance with you and your toddler as you bop around the kitchen to an 80’s hit with a fast beat.

Oh, if walls could talk…

When it’s all over, I’d hope mine would say, “Thanks for the good times; it was fun.”