I grew up in a home on a Farm to Market road, FM 311, in a teeny tiny town of 3000 called Bulverde. Although we only actually lived in this house for 3 years, it’s the home my family poured its heart into. It is the property my dad sweat and bled for to build my mom’s dream home. They chose every detail, every corner, every nook and every little cranny of that home together. He chose every stone that was laid for our fire place meticulously, he built the stone sidewalk that led to our door. He attached the tire swing on the tree that swung over the creek down the hill. He built the tree house on the east side of the property behind “goat mountain” where we had kittens and goats alike born in the deep cracks of stones piled up on one another. He cleared the field on top of the hill for our soccer field. He put in a putt-putt course for us by the twisted tree at the very front of the property.
We bought these 17 acres of land when I was 3 years old, and for the next couple of years that property was my every weekend, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the back of my daddy’s truck, watching while he would clear out one tree after the other. That property was source to an imagination unlike any other, daily explorations and adventures. I cannot count how many times I got in trouble for stealing the left over shingles by the water house to build a playhouse. My sister, Emily, and I would create worlds within the massive oak trees that towered over us, kingdoms and princesses running through the woods. “You be Cinderella and I will be Princess Ariel,” she would say. I will never forget those days. Those days are my favorite. They are when I can vividly remember sheer and utter happiness. When all five of us were under the same roof, and all three kids were young enough -not quite too spaced in age yet- to still play with one another. We would play hairdresser on my brother out back on the porch while the goats would run on top of dad’s car for the hundredth time that day. Emi and I would train our puppies up on the soccer field together, playing mother for our border collies, Freckles and Rosie. Daddy would punt the soccer ball so high it would disappear in the clouds for just a moment before coming back down. FM 311 holds the most special place in my heart. It is the home I can recall first trying to mimic my mom’s every move. Sitting out on the front porch to watch the stars was routine, and I would sit in her lap crossing my legs like her as best I could. I remember her holding my thumb up to the crescent moon one evening saying, “Did you know that’s God’s thumbnail?” Every time I see a crescent moon, even still, I can hear her saying those words in my ear like a gentle whisper.
After just three years living in our home on 311, and a long process of purchasing to building it, we had to move unexpectedly to Oklahoma. Then, just three years later, yet again, we moved right back to Bulverde as fast as we could. It’s painful to think we sold that home my childhood memories lie within. Whoever lives there gets to enjoy all that my dad created. They have gotten to walk on the wooden floors he picked, and they get to step across the dent in the one by the living room that I dropped a big gearock on. They have slept in the rooms my parents so carefully designed for each one of us. Whoever lives in my home on FM 311, I hope you know how much it means to me. I hope you keep it exactly how my daddy made it. I hope you keep it in pristine condition.
As this time of year approaches, it never gets easier for me as I grow up. It stirs up within me a nostalgia that is so painful it’s almost nauseating. Do you know what I am talking about? That deep, gut wrenching kind of love. Except, this one is different. No matter how hard you close your eyes and try to make it all happen again, this one cannot ever be exactly the same as it once was. We live in different corners of the country, we change and grow up. Yeah, this time of year makes my heart hurt. It makes it long for days on 311 and playing with my big sister and brother. It makes me wish I had bunny rabbit hutches out to the left of my back door and goats to the right. It makes me wish for my handsome daddy to walk in through the front door, jingling his keys in a way I knew was him before I even looked. Gosh, I love my dad. Nobody tells stories like my daddy. Nobody makes me melt like my daddy makes me melt. It makes me wish for my big bed he would come lay in with me every single night, telling me bedtime stories until I fell asleep. It makes me wish for my mom’s big vanity in her bathroom that I would play dress up on, sneaking a spray of her perfume when she wasn’t looking. I remember her doing my pigtails on my very first day of kindergarten on top of that vanity counter. I was in a puppy shirt with a matching plaid skirt. I wasn’t allowed to wear that outfit until school started, so I anxiously awaited for the first day of school to finally come so that I could wear my new matching set and brand new tennis shoes. She is the most beautiful woman I ever have seen. I would sit on the wooden floor of the kitchen behind her, watching as she would cook something on our gas fire stove. She cooked for us every single night and we ate as a family at our dinner table every single night. I was clueless to how hard it must have been to come home and cook for all of us after a long day of work, clueless to how hard she and my dad worked to provide such a beautiful home for us.
There is no town like Bulverde. It is funny how no matter where I go, truly, my hometown is still home. My white rock home on 17 acres, no matter the amount of time we actually spent in it, that is the home I grew up in. It just is. You know, people from San Antonio have a bond like no other town I know; I was talking about this just last night. In Dallas, to see a 210 area code pop up is to feel you are speaking with someone from home. It’s answering your phone with, “You’re a 210 number! What part did you live in?” It’s like that for all of us. To see a Spurs tee shirt is to automatically meet family. I am so grateful for the city I call home. No place is like home. No place is like San Antonio. No place is Bulverde, Texas. No home is the one on FM 311.
Isn’t it crazy it’s already almost November and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away? I am not naive, I know this upcoming time of year is hard for a lot of people. I am not alone in this. But as the holidays approach, I hope you can cling to memories that make you smile. I hope you remember why it’s so hard for this time of year to come back around, not because of the distance or pain today, but because of what once was. I am not one to live in the past, but for just a bit every year when this time of year comes around, live in the past a little. Keep the good memories and latch onto them. Let those override reality if just even ever so slightly.
It may seem a little odd to write about my home I once lived in, but I feel that in order to know me, you have to know that home. You have to know those people, those sights, those memories. Thanks for reading The Cake, y’all. I cannot say how much I love doing this. It blows my mind anybody at all, other than my mom, wants to read what I write. You all make my dreams happen, and I am eternally grateful.
Have a happy weekend + remember you are so loved.