According to family lore, my parents moved twenty-five times during the first five years of their marriage.  I don’t remember much of that because by the time we “settled down” I was four years old.  By then, I’d lived in a few different states–Wisconsin, Montana, Kansas, North Dakota?  I don’t really know.  My dad was something of a nomad who thought he could do better than working in a jello factory or plucking chickens or selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.

We landed in Washington state in 1969 and shuffled around to three houses I remember: one in Puyallup, right next door to a doctor’s office, one in Everett on Wetmore, next door to a house that had a red-painted porch that retained the warmth of the day after the sun faded, and one in Marysville with two birch trees in the front yard and a yellow window in the entryway.

We lived in that house in Marysville from the time I was in kindergarten until I was in fifth grade.  It seemed like an entire lifetime to me.  When I think of my childhood, I think of that house on the corner of the cul-de-sac where we played kickball and of the “big hill” leading to the creek where we muddied our sneakers and crashed our bikes and skinned our knees.

That lifetime came to an abrupt end and we moved into a rental house with my dad and his new wife.  My bedroom in that house had hot pink carpet and an expansive backyard.  We lived there while our new house was being built.  Then, a year later, we moved to the house where I spent my teenage years.  The cemetery was just beyond the woods bordering our backyard.  I would wander through the woods and meander through the cemetery and mourn for the strangers buried beneath gravestones.  I never suspected that one day my very own dad would relocate from our house near the cemetery to the cemetery itself.  I thought we would all live forever, probably in that house decorated in earth tones, that house with the lilac bush in the courtyard, that house almost at the end of the dead end street  You knew it was my house because it was right by the streetlight on the left.

I lived in that house for six years.  An eternity, for adolescence seems to last forever and ever–even if you are not the parent of the adolescent.  I thought I would be imprisoned in that house, in that lavender bedroom forEVER, not allowed to wear make-up or stay up past 10 p.m. or be my own self.  I had a piano in my bedroom and sang along to my Barry Manilow songbook and Olive Newton-John sheet music.  (Don’t judge.  Have YOU ever been mellow?)

Here I am now.  Living in a house for eleven years, a house with my name on the mortgage and my choice of paint on the walls.  I’ve been here so long we’ve had to replace the kitchen faucet and the patio door and the washer and dryer.  My daughter was born upstairs in the bedroom on Labor Day, a fact which will forever amuse me.  My 11-year old has lived here since he was a baby himself, not quite rolling over.

This is their Home, their home-base, the place they’ll envision when they think about childhood and the fuzzy memories of long ago.  They’ll remember digging the gigantic coffin-sized hole in the backyard, racing around the yard in a pack of neighborhood kids.  This is the backdrop for their memories.

I can’t quite believe I’ve lived here so long–until I look in my unpurged storage room and understand the true value of moving often which is getting rid of stuff you don’t want to pack, carry and unpack.  We’ve accumulated a lot of stuff here:  memories, dreams and giant styrofoam containers that cannot be recycled nor easily stored.  I know if we had moved more often I wouldn’t retain ownership of all those cassette tapes from the eighties.

On the other hand there is great comfort in the familiarity of this home from the cobwebs in the corners to the stack of abandoned quilting fabric in the closet to the clutter in the storage room.

This is home.

I just wish someone else would clean it from time to time and do something about the entryway.  And some day I am going to peek behind the panel in my bedroom closet ceiling that leads to the crawl space up there and hope to find a million trillion dollars stashed away by the previous owners (God rest their souls).   Also?  I will dust.

10 thoughts on “Home

  1. I hear you on this one. My parents relocated out here from New England after WWII. My family was rather nomadic itself, moving several times to different houses in my hometown, then several times when we moved to Vancouver, enough where I went to 6 different schools in my last 6 years of education. Dear Hubby and I continued on, moving 7 times in the first 5 years of marriage. Then we settled here and have lived in this house almost 27 years now. I probably won’t move again until I’m deposited in some cemetery. Childhood is never easy, whether you stay in the same house your entire childhood or move all over the place. My kids can barely remember the house we lived in before this one. They grew up with all the same kids. Yet school was no picnic for them, as it wasn’t for me…as it never is for anyone, really. Even the popular kids will tell you that. But I like to think my kids have a more solid sense of security, in knowing no other home base than this one. And I still have one box in a nether corner of a room in the basement that has followed us every move since day one and I don’t even know what’s in it. Don’t care enough to go dig it out and open it, either, HA! Dust? I have generations of cobwebs in that room down there. Out of sight, out of mind…that’s my motto.


  2. We have moved at least 20 times in 17 years, some moves being just down the road, and can I tell you? No matter how soon or far between moves, I STILL have to go through everything and always discover stuff we don’t need. This last move, which was last month from one leased house to another less than a mile away, I found enough stuff for a garage sale.


  3. This was beautiful. What a treasure trove of memories. A nice reminder that we are creating our own kids’ memories everyday.

    My favorite line: “When I think of my childhood, I think of that house on the corner of the cul-de-sac where we played kickball and of the “big hill” leading to the creek where we muddied our sneakers and crashed our bikes and skinned our knees.”


  4. What a great post! Wonderful descriptions of childhood “place” memories… Moving was not an experience I had until I left for college. The house my parents live in now is the same house my mom moved into as a teenager…in like…1955. She’s been there since at least high school. The phone number has never changed.(!!) After college, I had 8 addresses in 12 years (all within about 20 miles of each other), and then I was able to buy a house. I’ve been there for four years now – it’s nice to know my friends have actually written my address in their address books this time!


  5. I hear you about moving! Just today, I received from one of my brothers a large, black and white photo of me as a little girl, standing on top of a huge snowbank in the yard beside the house where I lived my first 11 years. I have many fond memories of that house and neighborhood.

    I recently came up with a plan to do a scrapbooking layout of places where I have lived. Digital camera in hand, I went to the nearby town where my husband and young children and I first lived after leaving the midwest. The first apartment we moved to out here was old, then. It was way out in the country, on a dead-end road surrounded by big trees. Imagine my surprise to find the same apartment a couple weeks ago – only now, it is NOT way out in the country, nor is it on a dead-end road surrounded by big trees. The street has opened up; new apartment buildings have been built; trees have been chopped down; businesses are all around. The old place we lived in then looks REALLY old now; especially in the light of the new things around it.

    It is a reminder of how so much has changed, and yet, with a click of the camera, it all comes rushing back. Like the photo of the little girl standing on the snowbank; we can choose to remember those days – those places – as happy ones or as sad ones. I have both kinds of memories.


  6. When I was 4, my parents moved from the first house they owned to the house I grew up in. They still live there, and now my home is four houses down the street.

    I guess you accumulate STUFF when you don’t move, but there really is no price tag on having a HOME. I wouldn’t trade this neighborhood, my parents’ home, my home, for anything. Even if it means I have a bunch of stuff I should probably chuck.


  7. I’ve moved many, many times in my adult life and I STILL have those 80’s cassettes. So staying in one place isn’t always the only way to accumulate stuff. 😉 They’ve followed me from IA to TX to Greece to CA to Japan to AR to Scotland to MD to Korea to TX to CO. Those are some seriously sticky tapes! LOL


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