On the Corner of Consistency
Elena Barrera-Waters, Division 2, 12th grade #ws16e-s2d2

In the middle of the street marked by the presence of kumquat trees and balding white heads lies my favorite place in the world, disguised as a quiet and modest brick home in the middle of Saratoga, a town where the motto is, “I remember when you were this tall” matched with a hand down at the knees. The magnolia trees guarding the front door of this little house grow a little taller as each year passes, as I have done in the same place since first being introduced to it as the one spot would be consistent throughout my childhood.

I was raised in a home that wasn’t my own, leaving behind the comfort of my bed in Austin for a small foldout version in my grandmother’s office. I fell asleep each night to the comfortable smell of newly sharpened pencils, the sound of her computer as it hummed itself to sleep in its old age, and the complete darkness of the room as I closed the window to tuck myself into my temporary nest. It is a place where waking up early in the morning isn’t an occurrence met with under eye circles and whimpers as light faded through the blinds, but one that’s met with a warm greeting of a chai tea latte waiting on the counter.

I was raised in a home that wasn’t my own, one reserved for the summers as a way to exchange days with temperatures in the triple digits for days spent sitting and reading outside alongside my peacefully silent grandfather and he worked away at that day’s crossword puzzle, exchanging coffee in the mornings for gin as the sun went down. We would call it ‘golden hour’ when I was younger, soaking in the sun that baked our skin to a sweet and perfect bronze only comparable to my grandmother’s best cookies plastered with a chocolate kiss on top.

I was raised in a home that wasn’t my own, going just beyond the back gate to discover an entirely new world of railroad tracks and dogs I barely knew but loved just the same. Gray and blue tinted rocks decorated the sides of the tracks, leaving pieces of the Earth as toys for me to play with as I tossed them into the small creek each time I passed by, watching their splashes extend to the dogs lapping up water and their respective owners calling for them to come back.

I was raised in a home that wasn’t my own, finding a sense of calmness in what remained familiar, no matter how much time passed. When looking out the windows of the room where I slept, the brightness of the red hibiscus plants would be there looking right back at me. As I made my way through the back hallways of the house, a dog would always follow behind me, anticipating some sort of snack or at least a pat on the head. In the buzz of voices that always continued in the living room, my grandfather would yell at the San Francisco Giants on the TV screen as he sat in his old leather chair that was shaped to his body after years of staying in that position to cheer on his team.

I continue to be raised in a home that’s not my own, one that has stayed consistent despite so many things within it that have not. The dogs in the house have changed over the years, transitioning from Maggie to Sandy to Nita, yet still they have all followed me down the dimly lit hallways in hopes of gaining some reward. My grandfather has been gone for a few years now, but his chair remains in the shape of his thin body reflective of his old age, even after years without usage. I still sit in the backyard reading like he and I always would, letting the sun and my grandma’s cookies once again remind me of his presence and the way we had always been glowing together.

I continue to be raised in a home that’s not my own, returning to it less and less each year, but loving it just as much. Each time I go, I am met with the open arms of my grandmother and the barks of a dog ready to have someone new to walk along the railroad with on our daily excursions beyond the blackberry bush and blue-tinted rocks that I have grown up seeing as a sign of being right where I was supposed to be. As I stand in the same spots, years later, I still feel it. When I am at that little house in Saratoga, I am still right where I am supposed to be – on the corner of consistency and love, right across the street from the excitement of summers spent making lemonade stands and exploring the wilderness beyond the wooden fence that held in my youth, keeping it alive and flourishing each time I visited.
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