This week, I saw a wonderful example of imprinting in the form of an adorable little five year old girl and her duck. They equally believed they belonged together …. as Mother and Child. Imprinting in the animal world, which evidently happens quite frequently, means there’s a window of time during which another creature, or even an inanimate object, is stamped onto their nervous system, and they become bonded to it. This got me thinking and pondering. I think that it must have happened to me.
The first house that I ever called home was my grandparents house in Virginia. My father was on a military deployment in Africa when I was born, so my Mother took me straight from the hospital to live in her childhood home with her and my grandparents. The planned few months turned into nine years with the twists and turns of life….so the better part of my early years were spent here. I moved to Florida when I was nine and a half and oddly never looked back. I would not visit this house again for almost 50 years. It was buried in the collage of growing-up memories that were placed in the attic of my mind and eventually got covered with the accumulation of other things…the way that things stashed in attics mostly do.
Fast forward…..In my adult life, with a family of my own, I found that I was always restlessly searching for the right house. I couldn’t really describe it, but I was quite sure that I would know it when I saw it. It had to just “feel” right. This was very difficult to verbalize to a husband frustrated with the desire to find us a house to make me happy, when I really didn’t even know exactly what I wanted. We’ve lived in many houses, but the search continued…almost like the story of the Goldilocks….this is too hot…this is too cold….. I wanted to desperately find….. juuuuussst right.
We took a memory trip back to my first home not too very long ago. I discovered as soon as we drove up that THIS place is what I had been searching for. The house, the yard, the neighborhood…..all of it. THIS was my Goldilocks Zone. It just occurred to me that I had been imprinted by that place in ways that I never realized. The love, security, and family that had cocooned me there in my first years took on a persona of its own. It colored my early days and left an indelible mark on me and that house that connected us. I FELT it. I YEARNED for it. And now I finally understood what I was looking for. I guess I was right when I said that it had to “feel” right. I firmly believe that happiness leaves its palpable imprint in places. Someone, or actually a few someones, created it for me. It was not really the house…but the feelings that were encapsulated there.
We’ve lived in a lot of places in these married years together and I sincerely pray that we too have left behind the happy imprints of time spent in those spaces. In fact, I know that we have indeed. Now we are on the precipice of contemplating yet another move….downsizing…creating margin in our cluttered lives. Even though I know that we have the ability to create it ourselves, I have to say that I really want a house that has been imprinted with happiness and feels juuuuussst right the minute I walk inside! Now I know what I am looking for. Ummmm Goldilocks….I think we can do this!