For the next four weeks, the Orient is featuring a selection of students’ essays about their homes, in conjunction with the “Here Having Been There” photo exhibit, opening April 8 in the basement of the Visual Arts Center. 

Last summer, my brother and I began the process of tearing down our childhood home. It is a strange feeling to forever reduce your house to a pile of copper (to sell), metal and glass (to recycle), and wood (to burn). Slivers of guilt erupted each time I jettisoned armfuls of memory-infused popcorn ceiling, but a greater part of me relished the fact that my best-kept secret was disappearing from the landscape. After all, this home defined how I saw myself and how others categorized me growing up: as trailer trash.  

Yet, it is really my only home. After my parents’ divorce, I found myself living in a metaphorical mobile home. My high school and college years included stays between several beds and couches, including one in this trailer (at the time home to my brother). Consequently, I was ripping out fiberglass insulation from the thin walls of my only true home with mixed emotions.

The more I delved into its innards, the angrier I grew at how cheaply it was constructed. Staples and glue affixed every piece of faux wood paneling and molding to studs with the dimensions of matchsticks. I could not shake the idea that the trailer’s worn linoleum flooring somehow reflected my family as equally cheap, flimsy and temporary.   

I looked out across the fields where my father, brother and I had spent summers haying. My family’s 50 acres is the closest thing I have to a home. Here I learned tree identification and woodlot management. It was where my siblings and I raced to Mom after getting barbed wire stuck in our legs or concussions from sledding off barn roofs. It was where I contemplated life (as a 13-year-old knows it), my feet dangling in the gelid waters of our property’s moss-blanketed streams.

I could say that this trailer on a dirt road in rural New Hampshire taught me many of the values I appreciate in myself and in others. Home in the physical sense is not that powerful, though. No, it is my parents I wish to thank. My parents did the best with what they had, and gave me a humble resourcefulness that guides me through a world so unlike the one in which I grew up.   
My brother and I will finish razing the trailer this upcoming summer. By then, this image will be the only vestige of my childhood home. And I’m fine with that.