Editor’s Note: Song lyrics denoted in bold italics.
Confession: Picking an inaugural song for our new Tuesday Tunes series wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be. After all, this was an important decision — this first song would most definitely set the tone for the rest of the series. It had to be right. It had to be special. Like I mentioned last week, it had to help tell the story of my life.
So when I started going through the drafts of song ideas I’ve saved over the last six months, one song quickly jumped out at me. It stood out like a shiny beacon above all the rest.
Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me“
Have you ever watched a music video for the first time and the song and story come together in the most perfect way possible that it just rips your heart out? It’s almost as if your soul is bleeding because you can identify with it on such a visceral level.
That’s how Miranda’s song hit me that first time, and that’s how it hits me still.
I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
I grew up in an apartment, and even though it was relatively small, it was my absolute favorite place in the entire world. It was my sanctuary — the place where I felt safe and loved and comforted. It wasn’t a flashy house; in fact, it was pretty modest, but what it lacked in fancy decor, it made up for in warmth and family togetherness. Saturdays spent watching the latest episode of ER and eating frozen pizza. Evenings of doing homework at our dining room table. Summers playing in the big field behind our house — a field so expansive that it seemed to go on forever. Everything — both inside and outside — made for the best childhood I could ever imagine.
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here its like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me
As much as we all loved my childhood home, we knew we couldn’t stay there after my father’s death. The once-happy memories, especially in those first months, were just too raw and we quickly found our emotions unraveling like a tight coil suddenly unhinged. Plus, we knew full well that we couldn’t keep going back into our bathroom, the spot where my father killed himself. It just wasn’t healthy. For any of us. So we moved into a new house across town. And it’s a great house, and we even feel like it’s a sign of a new chapter in our lives.
But, you know what? Our new place is most definitely not home. Not how my home used to be — not how I’d come to define ‘home’ my entire life. A few years after we moved, my bus drove past our old place one afternoon. Everything was the same: Our old parking spot, the steep steps, the hill my sister and I used to roll down. Heck, part of me half expected my father to come walking down the sidewalk at any moment. I suppose sense memories are powerful like that.
That old place? It didn’t feel like ‘home’ anymore, either. Not really, anyway. Maybe it was because I was a different person, like I’d been through things and couldn’t identify with that innocence of youth anymore. Or maybe it was because, like Miranda sang, you really can’t go home again, even though we all desperately want to at some point in our lives. Sometimes, I’ll admit, that desperation is an overpowering force. We all want to go back to the place we came from, that place that essentially shaped us into the people we ultimately become. Because, when you think about it, a true ‘home’ is more than just a foundation and walls and carpeting. It’s memories and people and the love that was built there.
I often wonder if the ghosts of our past are somehow still living in that little apartment and if they’re still as happy there as we were so many years ago. I like to think they would be. After all, how could they not be? xoxo