The House on Silver Spur Road

I was born with this odd sort of yearning that took me many years to figure out.  I would consider it part of my journey even starting when I was a young girl.   I think that what I’ve come up with in my sage wisdom is that what I’ve been yearning for was a home.  A place I could call home.  A place where I fit in and felt wanted.  I think everyone on this earth is born with that same yearning – to find purpose and meaning, safety and security.   My childhood home  on Silver Spur Road was that place for me in the early part of my search.  It was my refuge.

It was a beautiful yellow ranch house with white shutters that my father designed and helped build.   He was on the roof when my mother went into labor with me in 1956.  It sat on a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles, and at night you could see the city lights…and the planes landing in the distance at LAX.  It was still removed enough to be in a rural setting where there were horse trails and tranquility.  I lost myself time and time again on those trails when it was just me and my horse, and alone in those moments I had great conversations with God which I found great comfort in.   There were lots of eucalyptus trees lining the streets, and my home was only minutes from the beach.  It was a beautiful place to me.  It didn’t always offer me relief but it was always a great place of comfort.  I could always come back to it with an understanding of the places that my heart had traveled….even as a young adult.  It represented Eden to me; my Eden, and it is etched in my memory always.

I would return to the yellow house often during college and still after I got married, and the yellow house on Silver Spur Road told me that history and the future were not going to engulf me anymore than the river or the valley.  If I allowed my heart to respond to the beauty I found there; and the steadiness of this familiar place then maybe something of the beauty I found there might be built into me too.  I was at home there.  This place meant hope to me…but as with almost everything that has a lifespan, one day the inevitable was lost.

My parents made the decision to sell the family home my father built when I was in my mid-thirties in order to be closer to my family in Northern California.  What?  No!  You can’t sell the family home.  Yep….they did, and a short time later complete strangers were going to move in and take what was once mine.  As quickly as I could I dragged my 6 month pregnant self out to the car and made the 8 hour trek home to say my goodbyes to the house that played a huge part in building me.

As I walked around the house that October weekend, I stopped to lay my hand on the fireplace mantle in living room – the same place where many a prom photo was taken.  I stood at the stove in the center of the kitchen where I had learned to cook (well, sort of) and where I watched my mom make goulash and bacon and eggs.  I giggled when I walked into the laundry room, as memories of the holidays flooded over me when my dad would convert the top of the washer and dryer it into a makeshift bar….where the liquor of adults meshed with the hopes of childish dreams.

I lingered in the family room – a focal spot of our family, and I could picture where our first black and white TV sat and where I watched Saturday morning cartoons.  Later we would be one of the first on our block to have a color TV.   It was also there in that room that my mom actually told me the truth about Santa Claus.  I can remember it as if it were yesterday.  It was the week before Christmas and my childhood doubts made me ask her if there really was a Santa Claus.  She asked me if I really wanted to know, and I was in too deep to say “No….I was just kidding.  I don’t want to know….at least not until next month.”   What was she thinking – telling me the truth right before Santa was suppose to come down the chimney?”   It was also in that same room during college when I came home late on a Friday night for a weekend and as I babbled on about something I thought was significant in my life I ran to the sliding glass door and flung it open, calling for our family dog to come in from the yard.  I realized, slowly, when he didn’t come running as he always did, and as I turned to my mom the tears in her eyes told me without a word that Loki had died while I was gone.

Then I walked down the hall where on rainy days we kids would close all the sliding doors so it was pitch black, turn out the lights, and play hide n seek down that long hallway.  I was a master at walking up the walls with my hands and feet on each side – all the way up to the ceiling so no one could ever figure out where I went.   My bedroom was the last one on the right, so I sat down on the bed to reflect on all that this room had meant to me.   Among the packed boxes, mirrors and pictures that leaned up against the wall – if  I closed my eyes I could see a crib against the wall where I slept as a baby and where I caught my fat, chubby leg in its rungs as a 1 year old.  And over there was where the corner desk painted with 4 layers of paint sat, where I did my homework  for so many years.  And where were all the psychedelic posters of the 70’s that said “make love – not war“?  My mother wisely told my Grandmother that her little girl of 10 really didn’t know what that meant.   I practiced guitar there in that room and curled my hair in the yellow framed mirror on the wall.  That’s exactly what I was doing when the mirror began to sway in the early morning of February 9, 1971 as I was preparing for early morning basketball practice and the big 6.4 earthquake hit the Los Angeles area.  And there next to my bed would have sat one of my favorite gifts that my parents gave me as a teenager; on my 16th birthday I got my very own push button yellow princess phone with my own phone number!  Can you imagine?  Independence!  It would have been the equivalent of getting my own cell phone today.   And finally, if I kept my eyes closed long enough I could see the bright colors; the yellows and greens and oranges and pinks of the patchwork guilt bedspread that my mom made me when I went away to college. Sigh.  So many memories.  It was hard to leave the house that weekend.

It’s been 26 years since that day, and I’ve driven past the house on Silver Spur Road a few times since when I journeyed back. Only once did I dare attempt to knock on the door and ask the new owners if I might come in and say hello to my old childhood house.  There’s a great song recorded by Miranda Lambert called “The House That Built Me” (hence, where I got that phrase from) that reminds me of that interaction, although it didn’t go quite as well nor were the circumstances in my life as dramatic, but it speaks to me nonetheless:

“The House That Built Me”

I know they say you can’t go home again.
I just had to come back one last time.
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam.
But these hand prints on the front steps are mine.
And up those stairs, in that little back bedroom
is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar.
And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
my favorite dog is buried in the yard.

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.

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years.
From ‘Better Homes and Garden’ magazines.
Plans were drawn, concrete poured,
and nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream.

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.

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.
I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am.

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 walk around I swear I’ll leave,

Won’t take nothing but a memory
from the house that built me.

I wish I could tell you that the lady of the house flung the front door open and willingly invited me in, acknowledging that my history with the house was far more important than hers.  Not so much.  I mean, that’s what I would have done.  The reality of that interaction and the times we live in is that she was pretty suspicious when she opened the door.  I told her who I was and asked if I might just pop my head in and see the old house again….and you could tell that she really didn’t want to.  It was awkward but she reluctantly let me in.  I felt bad for her.  How many times had we opened those front doors to strangers who had broken down on the road below?  Or taken in someone who needed help?   So I quickly passed through the main living areas, not daring to even ask to see my old bedroom.  I felt as if I was imposing on their privacy, but wanted to take in just some little pieces of my past to fill any holes or cracks that I was feeling at that time of my life.  But the house wasn’t the same.  My Dad had taken great pride in keeping the place and the yard well groomed and manicured – now it looked as if it hadn’t been cared for as well.  The beautiful yellow color had been changed to a drab grey.  Nothing stays the same.   My Eden, once again, seemed lost.

My childhood home on Silver Spur Road - as it looks today
My childhood home on Silver Spur Road – as it looks today

So what do I do when I can’t find my Eden here on this earth?  I think that’s what propelled me to seek.  When hope is lost I found that I need to make a conscious choice to keep my heart focused on the only sure future God has promised me….the memory and hope of the real Eden.   The memory of it is what I mentioned before – I think we all have a hidden secret memory of Eden within each of us.  It’s what the Master Designer put in each and every one of our hearts, and that’s what became that yearning I spoke of.  What I’ve learned is that with that memory of Eden there’s no reason for me to feel uncomfortable in this place so marred and filled with stench of the fall.  It’s Eden’s memory, a place we’ve never been but know in our hearts and built into each of us that invites our hearts to faith.  That’s what the house on Silver Spur Road did for me….it started me on my journey of faith, and that’s why I loved it so.

This whole concept of yearning keeps coming back around for me.  I look back on my childhood and I remember that even at an early age I yearned for relationship in my attempt to find home.  I’m realizing that this yearning placed deep in my soul for a place was actually carefully placed there by God to point me to Him.  Those longings and feelings of incompleteness I’ve felt all my life were designed by God and ingrained in me to ache for a person and a home.  I confused the house on Silver Spur Road as that place for a time.  But now I’ve realized that the home I’m aching for isn’t here.  What I was made for….that fulfills both the relationship and home I’m looking for is Heaven.  HA!

Isn’t God gracious to allow me to figure that out?  It’s my hope that the Father would use this longing within my heart for home to help empower me to live in a way that brings Him joy and pleasure.  For me, He is the source of all the pleasure and delight in the world today.  I hope grace captures you as well, and you find the person and place that your heart was designed to yearn for.  And here’s to grace for the journey.

3 Replies to “The House on Silver Spur Road”

  1. Kris– I loved reliving my childhood, reading this. I’ve had all the same feelings, about my home and growing up in that same wonderful place. And what fun when you mentioned Loki, whom I’d completely forgotten about playing with at your lovely yellow house. Thanks so much for writing this….

  2. I too have wonderful memories of your home. All the times we cousins got together and got in trouble doing all the crazy antics that we got into.
    This blog made me recall my own home and all the things we used to do in our house as well. Do you remember putting on plays, swinging so hard on the backyard swing that we tipped it over, teasing you with your teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini and many many more.
    I am so blessed that my daughter bought my family home so I am able to go back home whenever I want to relive my childhood. Even though they have made many many changes it is still so nice to see my grandson now running through the halls that my brother & I once ran through. Thanks for the memories.

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