Originally posted April 17, 2013; updated June 5, 2013
Traveling Down Memory Lane:
Dwellings in which we spent our childhood years take on a prominent role in our memories. Perhaps it’s that the layout of our homes dictated much of the rhythms of our daily lives as we grew up, or perhaps it’s the plasticity of the developing child’s mind that causes the memories to be so deeply chiseled there.
More than one childhood home?
In my family, we tended to live in one house for decades. As a result, many of my memories revolve around the same physical building and surrounding neighborhood.
Your “childhood home” might be your grandparents’ or aunt’s home, your school, or your community center. You may also have bits and pieces of different homes that stand out in your recollections.
Regardless, the fact is, the place or places you lived were a part of your growing up and were the setting in which the ‘forming’ of your formative year took place.
For most of us, “home” was the place we felt safe, loved, and free to form. Even if your growing up place(s) cannot be painted as idyllic (and I’m not advocating revising your past), your memories of them will interest the generations coming after you and will deepen the connections you have with family members that share your memories of these places.
Your childhood homes
Every story is better with a well-described setting. By writing about childhood homes, you can leave your readers with some impressions of your the place or places in which you grew up. This can be especially meaningful if it is no longer in the family or is far away.
Don’t limit yourself to the physical characteristics of your home, but also include:
What were you likely to hear? Was it a noisy home, filled with people and activity or was it the place you went to find peace? Who caused the noise: people, nature, or machinery?
What were you likely to smell? Thinking back on these odors can bring back a flood of memories. (See Smells and Memory: How it works) Kitchen smells come easily to mind, but there could be perfumes, cleaners, tobacco and (eww) personal smells.
What did this home “feel” like. Was it pristine, cozy, homemade, cobbled-together or professionally decorated? Was furniture worn and comfy or covered in plastic? Did it have a loving feel or were there overtones of anger there?
What were the daily rhythms of the household? Would a visitor most likely find someone in the kitchen, on the phone, or in the garden? Did activity break out at a specific time?
Want to see a great example? Watch singer-songwriter Stephanie Jansen sing to her dad about the home he built. (You don’t have to be able to sing your memories, listen to her words!)
Take your readers for a walk down Memory Lane, up your front walk, and into your childhood home.
© Laura Hedgecock 2013