November 2018, visiting South Africa
I sort through my parents old photographs and find one of my first childhood house. Curious to find it on Google maps, I realise I don’t know the address. My parents, brother and sister remembered it only as Plot 148. We cramp together traversing the suburb of Roma in Lusaka, Zambia. It seems impossible to find.
“I’ll get the plans so we can identify it from above”, says Dad.
“We turned right and went up a slight incline”, says my brother.
“There was a posh house opposite ”, says Mum
“Remember when Robbie fell in the pond”, pipes up my sister.
Our collective memory negotiates the way.
When we find it, the outlines of the house are fuzzy.
But my narrative becomes clearer.
We’ve found the plot.
And then it dawns on us – this was the only house we had ALL cohabited in. From then on were a series of re-locations. There were varying combinations of the five of us living together, depending on circumstance … and a part of ‘family-ness’ got lost along the way.
So recall by recall we’ve re-built the road to ourselves – re-constructed our houses – and I have been re-furnishing them with my photographs and writing. Though we live far apart, my primary family stand together in knowing that:
Home is the sum of our experiences and memories
rather than one particular building of bricks and mortar.