Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Life in Homes

red door

I felt like I needed a kick in the pants to sit down and write today, and I found one at Literary Mama. Yesterday's journal writing prompt there included the following:

"The [United States Census] Bureau doesn’t directly collect data on the number of lifetime moves, but using data from its 2007 American Community Survey, they estimate that a person in the United States can expect to move 11 times in his/her lifetime. Nine of these moves are made between ages 18 and 45; two after age 45.

Journal Entry: List all the places you’ve lived. Note your age and approximately how long you lived there, and then describe one memory from each home."

I thought this might be an entertaining trip down memory lane for me and provide you a little more information about me. What will be interesting is choosing a single memory from each. I'm trying not to overthink this and am going to go with whatever comes to mind first and keep the editing to a minimum. 

1st house, Sandusky, OH - birth to age 10

Although I didn't realize it at the time, my bedroom was very small. There were only two possible locations to put the bed, one of which placed the foot of the bed under the only window. My twin bed had a headboard (perhaps a faux brass?) but no footboard. During the hot summer months, my mom would make my bed upside down, so that the sheets folded down from the foot of the bed. Sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed put me under the open window, where I could catch the breeze.

2nd house, Sandusky, OH - ages 10-17

I first made out with a boy on the family room couch after a high school football game and during an episode of Miami Vice. "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits was the soundtrack to the episode and played in the background. I don't remember the kissing, except that in my utter lack of experience, I deemed it good.

3rd house, Sandusky, OH - ages 17-22 (summers during college)

During college, I predictably broke up with my high school boyfriend the summer between freshman and sophomore year. We got back together over Christmas break and finally broke it off for good during the following summer. One of the break-ups (I don't remember which, but odds are it was the final one) involved some pretty egregious behavior on his part. 

I confirmed the nasty rumor while sitting in the front seat of my (parents') car in his driveway one night, but the actual break-up came the next day. I vividly recall sitting on the trunk of my (parents') car, facing him standing in the driveway, and saying, "I still love you, but I don't really like you very much." 

Postscript: 20-plus years later, I still consider him a friend and keep in touch.

College - 18-22, actually 2 dorms and 4 rooms

My most memorable times were spent with my best girlfriends in our dorm rooms sophomore and junior year. I went to school in the South, and our dorms were not air conditioned. On a particularly sweltering day, several of sat together in my room, wearing only jog bras (as I believe they were then called) and boxers, spread-eagled in front of the only fan. I can still feel the breeze on my sweaty skin and hear my friends' voices bemoaning the heat.

Law school - ages 22-25

I--perhaps slightly less predictably--broke up with my college boyfriend the summer between my second and third years of law school. On my January birthday, a friend who was dating my ex's roommate informed me that my ex was dating someone--not just dating, but really seriously dating. The two friends with me in the room deduced the topic of conversation and had a strong gin and tonic ready when I hung up the phone.

Postscript: I got back together with the ex almost a year after we broke up and married him four years later. The friend who delivered the news married the roommate. We are all still great friends.

Atlanta - ages 25-27, actually 2 apartments in the same complex

After accepting a job in Atlanta and renting an apartment, I got back together with the aforementioned ex-now-husband, and we decided to give my parents an apoplexy and move in together. I arrived first. The boyfriend arrived, driving a U-Haul and towing a Camry, on the night of the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics. He was very, very late arriving, and I fell asleep on the couch. Around 3 a.m., he called to say he was lost and had been circling Atlanta for hours and needed directions.

I pulled out a map and asked where he was. His useless answer: just off I-285 at The Waffle House. Do you have any idea how many Waffle Houses there are just off the highway in Atlanta? I eventually located him on a map, drove to fetch him, and had him follow me to our new home.

Palo Alto - ages 27-31

Although we became engaged and got married while living here, neither of those events occurred in Palo Alto. Instead, one of my fondest memories is of a mundane weekly habit. When the weather was warm enough--which was most of the time--I would take my favorite sections of The Sunday New York Times to the pool outside our apartment building. I would sit in a lawn chair in the sun and read the entire Book Review and magazine cover-to-cover before returning inside.

Chicago, apartment - ages 31-33

We lived in a third-floor walk-up. We lived in this apartment until I was 8 months pregnant. I had to stop at each landing to wheeze and catch my breath before continuing up the stairs.

Chicago, condo - ages 33-36

Both our children were born while we lived here, so many dear memories are associated  with our first home ownership. Of course, what comes to mind is not one of the more joyous parenting moments--when our eldest (not yet 2) first climbed out of his crib.

I had read one of those stupid parenting books that insisted we didn't need to give up on the crib. According to the book, I should immediately pick up the escaped child, say nothing, make no eye contact, and deposit him back in bed. Without stimulation, he would stay in the crib.

I did that. 60 times in 45 minutes. 

Hours later, when I was exhausted and asleep, I heard the shushing noise of fat little legs in diapers approaching the bed. I couldn't get up and start the process again. I picked him up, placed him between my husband and me, and we all slept the rest of the night. That's the only time, other than infancy, that one of our kids has shared our bed.

Rhode Island - ages 36-present

I had never painted anything other than an elementary school art project before we moved here. One day, I noticed a sizable chip in the paint on the laundry room door frame. I touched it up. I learned that you cannot "touch up" white trim, because the fresh paint is painfully obvious. One thing led to another, and I didn't know where to stop. Before I knew it, the laundry room and bathroom door frames, the kitchen and family room baseboards, the hearth and mantel, bookshelves, and I can't recall what else had a fresh coat of bright white paint. I'm still going.

There you have it, my life in homes. Nine moves (if you count college as a single move) by age 42, and I have a strong feeling I'm not done yet.

If you know me, do you have a particular memory about one of these homes? How many moves have you had? Are you up to this challenge?


  1. I fondly remember the first three houses you lived in.

  2. I have moved a ton also :) I moved out for college and then moved almost every year after that for the next ten years. There were a couple of years that I moved three times within a year when my husband and I were first married. When I was 23 I moved 2500 miles away from home by myself, which was an adventure in itself! I saw your post on bloggy moms and following you by email now. I look forward to your future posts!

  3. I remember you making lay on the floor of the first home on Deerpath (circa 1986) and listen to "40" by U2. I wasn't yet sold on them, that didn't happen until The Joshua Tree, and you were doing your best to convince me.

    1. Proving, yet again, that I am very wise and you should always listen to me. I don't remember that moment, but it sounds exactly like something we would have done. Thanks for telling me!

  4. I love the way you used the writing prompt. I thought 11 moves in a lifetime sounded extreme but it appears you might meet it! Hope you visit Literary Mama again.

  5. Wow, I hadn't really thought of all the moves in depth...I have had 11 moves and 12 homes, more if you count army barracks) and we're not done yet. They are: Philadelphia, Virginia, South Carolina (basic training), Georgia, Worms Germany, Alabama, Tennesee, Illesheim Germany, Tennesee, Alabama, and South Carolina. I think I will write ages and memories down for myself when I have time...a real walk down memory lane, thanks!

  6. I just counted, and as close as I can figure I've moved 20 times since I was born. I'm sure I'm not done yet, but that seems like a lot!