Thursday, August 22, 2019

Homeplaces

In the early evening, usually before dinner, Matt and I sit in our little home library (on the megacomfy futon we have in there for when it has to double as our guest room) and we talk about our day and all the things we've read, heard, or thought of throughout.  Sometimes we do this on the back porch, depending on the weather.  Either way, it is part of our post-workday routine.
Our bedroom catching a little morning light.  August 2019
A few weeks ago I told him about this interesting list my blogfriend Pen had crafted of all the homes in which she's lived.  It was such an interesting glimpse into her remarkable life.  (Here I had to stop and ruminate on the ability for a life to be both extraordinary and humble at the same time).  Pen's list--and the subsequent discussion between Matt and I--prompted us to count off on our fingers a similar list for ourselves.  Mine was just slightly longer than Matt's, which surprised neither of us.  He's always stayed close to home, being born and raised in the same town where we still reside today.  Later on I fleshed my list out even further, reminiscing about these homes that sheltered and shaped me.
Grilling veg and tofu on the back patio.  July 2019
Home(s), Sweet Home(s):
  1. The Little Green House:  We lived in the little green house in my earliest childhood.  It was the home my parents brought me to upon leaving the hospital when I was born.  It was diagonally across the street from the Catholic church we attended and adjacent to the church parking lot.  We had so much fun in that parking lot since it wasn't used much except Sundays and Wednesdays.  I learned to ride my bicycle there, crashing spectacularly when I beckoned my sisters to watch me show off my new skills.  We made the best snow forts along the perimeter of the parking lot since the snow was plowed to the edges making humongous mountains to climb and excavate.  I thought the unfinished basement was creepy and full of spiders.  I avoided it if possible.  This is the house where I first fell in love with the mystery that is cats.  We always had cats.  I can distinctly recall Chin-chin skittering over the newly installed hardwood floor in the living room like she was ice skating.  I guess she hadn't been expecting the change.  She slid right through the living room, across the linoleum and smashed against the refrigerator.  It is weird the scenes that get burned in to the mind.  We had a garden and a juniper bush, which I can remember vividly because I tried the berries once.  We planted three trees along the south side of the yard which I equated with my sisters and myself.  Lisa's tree, Sarah's tree, my tree.  Eventually My Tree would be run over by someone who didn't quite make the corner.
  2. The House on 9th Street:  My parents bought this house when I was about eight or nine years old.  This is the house I think of as My Childhood Home.  I lived there from grade school on through high school, plus the first summer I went to college.  It underwent a boatload of renovations while we lived there and my bedroom moved around accordingly.  I started out in a small bedroom upstairs that had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wallpaper border when we bought the place.  I insisted that we keep it, being a tomboy and infatuated with TMNT and G.I. Joe.  There was an unfinished room in the basement that I can remember my parents overhauling into a bedroom for Sarah.  In high school I moved down into Lisa's old bedroom in the basement and, somehow, convinced my mom to let me paint one entire wall with the cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  She put her foot down on painting all the walls black however.  I think my mom gained a lot of empowerment through her DIY projects on that house--wiring, installing ceiling fans, pouring concrete, putting up fences, painting, ripping up carpet, etc.  I thought that her and her friend Penny could do just about anything.  The house was in a fairly wholesome neighborhood quite close to my school.  It was the sort of place where we could play Night Games (think:outdoor hide and seek for teens) throughout the block--sneaking in and out of neighbor's yards, hiding between sheds and fences, etc.  I can't really imagine doing it now.
  3. My Dad's Apartment:  My parents separated (and subsequently divorced) when I was in 5th grade--and my dad moved into an apartment.  I can remember being quite nervous the first time he took us over to see it.  I wrote about the occasion in my diary.  I was nervous about the family changes and I was nervous about living in an apartment instead of a house and about having two homes, in general.  It was all so new and unfamiliar to me--though it worked out in the end.  Sarah and I shared a room, but it was basically mine.  Lisa must have just stayed at mom's, I guess.  My dad developed a repertoire of dinner recipes in that apartment that includes some of my favorites to this day--things like tatertot hotdish or spaghetti pizza bake.  There was a park RIGHT across the street and a creek just a stone's throw away.  I remember playing in both a lot.  There was also a pasture of horses diagonally across from the apartment and I loved to go over and rub their velvety noses and feed them grass over the fence.
  4. My Dad and Dana's House:  My dad and his girlfriend (who would soon enough become my stepmom) bought a house just a couple blocks away from our house on 9th Street.  I don't know how all the adults felt about their close proximity, but it was really ideal for Sarah and me.  We were able to bounce back and forth quite effectively.  Again, Sarah and I technically shared a room, but it was even more mostly mine in this case.  Dana's son, Jayde, also lived with us.  His room was upstairs and would eventually be turned into a proper dining room.  Prior to that it was pretty close quarters around the table at dinner time.  Whoever had the seat closest to the fridge--usually Sarah, if memory serves--had to be the "fetching girl," getting the salt and pepper or milk or whatever for those less free to move.  I lived in this house until I graduated from high school and moved from home.  We had a cat here, too, but he mostly loved Dana.  There was an empty lot behind the house and then the railroad tracks.  I used to enjoy playing a daredevil, climbing up and monkeying around on the train cars when stationary.  They were a lot taller than I initially expected.  The empty lot was good for kite flying except it you happened to crash land on the opposite side of the train.  
  5. Petro Resident Hall:  I waffled about including my university dorm as a home, but it was 100% mine and I was quite happy there, spreading my wings for the first time.  My assigned roommate decided not to come and so I ended up with a dorm room all to myself.  It was a perfect setting to transition from living at home to setting off on my own.  Quite frankly, I loved living in the dorms.  The laundry, cable, internet, and utilities were "free."  My friends were supremely close at hand and new friends were just waiting to be discovered.  I could walk everywhere on campus in a matter of minutes, including work (at the library!) which meant I could sleep in.  I didn't even mind the shared bathrooms since I didn't have to clean them.  I had some hilarious good times in the dorms--staying up into the wee hours playing Dr. Mario with my friend Hannah, eating EasyMac, listening to Dave Mathews Band for the first time, even riding a mattress down the stairs like a sled once.
  6. The Burnsteads:  I moved home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college.  When I returned to college I rented a two-bedroom apartment in a fairly low class apartment complex on the northside with Hannah.  We'd went to school together in Sidney, but really cemented our relationship after we left home--starting in the dorms.  I wouldn't have described her as "my bestie" back in high school, but that is totally her tagline in adulthood.  We racked up some fantastically good times living together in this apartment.  Hannah did almost all of the cooking.  We moved my two cats in, quite illicitly.  We loved having a place of our own where we could have friends over and, basically, do whatever we wanted for the first time.  I'll never forget the Christmas tree we put together there.  We didn't have any true holiday decorations and so studded our fake tree with all sorts of figurines, knick-knacks, and the like.  We used Hannah's Kyle from South Park plush toy as the topper.  The apartment was conveniently close to the college I was attending and we made a bunch of friends in neighboring complex buildings.
  7. The 8th St. Apartment:  Hannah and I eventually moved in with my then-boyfriend.  Hannah's then-boyfriend would also later move in, or maybe he just stayed there a lot.  I can't remember now.  The two-bedroom brick apartment was so trashed that Hannah and I had to deep clean before we could move in, especially Hannah's room.  In retrospect, that should have been a giant red flag.  Ah, my sweet, naive youth.  We had two cats and three ferrets and I loved them all deeply.  They're a bright spot in my memory of this particular home.  My baby ferret was about the cutest thing I ever saw.  We would dance together, her nipping at my skirt hem.  I loved playing with them during their bathtime and how curious they were about everything.  One of them loved soft, squishy stuff and so would steal balled up socks and hide them behind the refrigerator for safekeeping.  They were sure stinky though.  Our house was so messy and gross, embarrassingly so in retrospect.  I can't believe people came over--just shows how much they loved me, I guess.  Less than a year after moving in I moved out again.  Hannah'd wised-up even quicker than I did.  This is a low point in my life.  I don't dwell on it, but I'll never forget it either.
  8. The Tiny House on Beverly Hill:  Matt was living in this itty-bitty house when I met him.  It was an absolutely perfect house for a single person.  I only lived there for a couple months and debated even including it on the list of my homes.  It was always more Matt's home.  One of the first times Matt and I hung out was because he'd lost power for more than a day at his Beverly Hill house and couldn't cook a proper dinner.  I invited him over to my 8th St. apartment and cooked for him.  It was probably Hamburger Helper or spaghetti since I didn't really know how to cook back then.  We were friends from work, schlepping boxes for Fedex Ground, and we got along really well.  On his first day on the job I remember spotting him and thinking that he looked like the sorta person I'd be friends with--and so I set out to befriend him (little did I know!).  Months later, I was having a hard time and he let me crash with him in the teeny-tiny house...and... here we are almost 15 years later.  I can remember thinking it was weird to have a full-sized window IN the shower.  The "dining room" was basically just a hallway.
  9. The Orange Apartment:  Matt is the one who dubbed it The Orange Apartment on account of the astonishingly orange countertops in both the kitchen and the bathroom.  It had one of those set-ups where you had to walk into the bedroom to access the bathroom and, just like at a hotel, the bathroom counter and sink were IN the bedroom.  The actual bathroom was just a toilet and tub.  We moved here both because the Beverly Hill house was too small for the two of us and because my ex was being a serious drag.  We only lived in the Orange Apartment a short while though--moving out because our new landlords were serious drags, too.  As such, it isn't associated with The Best of Times in Life of Matt and Beth.  We did have some supremely happy days there though.  We started our tie-dye arts at this house and loved to have our friends over for dye parties.  We spent our second New Year's Eve as a couple watching reruns of The Simpsons and drinking cheap champagne in a nest of pillows and blankets on the floor in front of the TV.  It reallywas romantic, even if it doesn't sound that way.  
  10. The House on Second Ave: This is the home that would cement Matt and I as a couple.  We lived here for almost seven years.  It is where we first started dabbling in a garden.  We converted a tiny flower bed into a vegetable patch.  Our landlord told us we'd never get anything to grow there.  He would later tell us he always stole a couple tomatoes when he came by to check on things.  So, shows what he knew, I guess.   We put up our first bird feeders on 2nd Ave and loved having dinner parties since we had an actual dining room.  It had terrible lighting, ugly blue scalloped wall paper, and periodic infestations of mice.  I can remember catching 17 in just a few days at one point.  Over all though, we loved it there.  It was close to downtown and I'd cycle to the brewery and fill a growler every Friday.  My morning commute involved a big hill to cycle over.  I had a family birthday party with a pinata in the backyard and my dad and I ended up playing a sort of keepaway badminton with the pinata's head.   Boatloads of good memories like that at this house.  We were were more than ready to cease renting though and saved and saved and saved until we thought we could buy a place of our own.
  11. Home:  We bought our house about six and half years ago.  It is a pretty darn perfect house for us--two bedrooms and one bath, more yard than house.  It has a room for tie-dye and a cool basement for Matt to retreat to in the summer.  I have a dedicated sewing space AND puzzle table which makes both of those activities so much more enjoyable.  We love our big yard for having fires, playing bocce, grilling, and, of course, the garden.  We have ditch rights for water which makes a huge financial difference when compared to watering all the plants on city water.  Every year we improve on the land--building a greenhouse, adding wildflower beds, planting trees, shrubs, and grape vines.  This is the house where Matt welcomed his first kitty roommates and I re-fell in love with cat companionship after a ten year hiatus.  It is just over two miles from the college where I work and there is a bike lane the entire way.  It is a little more ambitious to cycle downtown to Farmer's Market, say, but we still do it some of the time.  I do wish we were a tiny bit closer to downtown, but there are pros and cons to all things.  I love having a bank, grocery store, and two hardware stores just a five minute cycle away and being closer to Matt's family and our signature landscape feature:  The Rims.  I genuinely feel that the great times are just beginning in this home and I expect we'll stay for a long, long while.
Johnny trying to limbo into a slim box in the livingroom.  July 2019
I'll tack Matt's list on at the end here, but wouldn't dream of trying to narrate his experiences in them as I did for myself--though I've heard some real fantastic stories.  I will note that the our well-worn leather sofa is from The House with Pizolato some 15+ years ago.

Matt's List:
  1. Matt's Childhood Home
  2. The Trailer
  3. The Apartment with Bek
  4. The House with Pizolato
  5. The Little House on Beverly Hill
  6. The Orange Apartment
  7. The House on Second Ave
  8. Home

3 comments:

  1. I loved this post...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Teresa. It was quite fun to write, too!

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  2. Oh the trailer. If those boys all end up with black lung mold or something horrifying, I will not be shocked (though I certainly don't wish for it). I have so many good memories from the 9th Street house, as well as the little green house, specifically our Barbie room, your hand and footprint floor, and the playhouse with the bunk beds. ❤️

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!