Monday, June 13, 2011

How Many Homes Have You Lived In?

To answer the question for myself, I rely on the memory of my mother, because the first three places I lived I don’t remember – two rental homes in New Orleans and one in Florida. I can remember the duplex we lived in until I was four, almost five, when my parents bought the home I consider the one I grew up in.

Then there were the three places I lived in college (dorm, fraternity house, apartment); my first apartment on my own in Texas, quickly followed by our first apartment as newlyweds; two apartments and a townhome in Houston; and then an apartment and two homes in St. Louis.

That made 16 places. I thought I had it figured out. Then I remembered the hotel room I lived in for six weeks when I first came to Houston and my wife was still in Houston; does that count? So I thought, OK, that was longer than just a few days, so maybe that would make 17.

Oh, yeah, there was also the summer we were homeless. I’d forgotten about that.

In 1986, we were building what is now our current home. We had never built a home before. Based on that experience, it will take a lot for me to even consider building a home again (a sentiment my wife thinks is slightly ridiculous but I could tell you some stories).

We had finally sold our existing home. The problem was that we had to move out in early June, and the new house wouldn’t be ready until late August. We talked to friends, and friends of friends, and people at church, and put the word out that we could house sit. We landed two house-sitting places and with some judicious timing of vacations at our parents’ homes in Louisiana, a friend’s basement for storing my books, the moving company’s warehouse for our furniture and household effects and a storage locker for things like lawn mowers, we did it. In retrospect, we had to be nuts.

We spent our first night out of our old house at our pastor’s house. What I remember most was driving there in a pouring rain. Then we spent three weeks at a home in a rather upscale part of St. Louis called Ladue (known as “Lah-Due” locally) while the owners chaperoned a bunch of high school kids on a trip to Europe. They also had a dog, two cats, a bird and six beehives. The dog was sweet but spacey, and loved to slip out the door to visit the beehives. The bees were not sweet and very focused/protective. One Saturday my wife looked out the back door to see me and our then-six-year-old looking like we were beating the dog, who was writhing on the ground. I suppose we were – but we were trying to kills the bees that had swarmed after him after he disturbed one of the hives.

A vacation to Louisiana, and then we were back to a new house-sitting place, a small home in another upscale section of St. Louis called Clayton. The owner was spending a month in Japan and China. We had no pets to worry about this time, the owner also didn’t stop her mail, so that I was able to read her New York Times Sunday Book Review for several Sundays in a row on her front porch swing.

Finally, we were approaching the time for our house to be finished. We closed on a Monday. The Friday before, I happened to mention this to the builder supervising the construction. His eyes grew large. He checked the contract. “Can you put it moving in off for a few days?” he asked. “Only if you pay to put us up somewhere, or have a couple of spare bedrooms yourself,” I said. Yes, the builder was behind schedule. The movers were coming on Tuesday to deliver our furniture, and a furniture company would be delivering a new sideboard for the dining room. The builder panicked and started shouting orders at the workmen.

We did close on the house that Monday. And we did move in on Tuesday. We had no driveway, no front porch, no back patio, a yard of good Missouri clay, and several dozens of other uncompleted things, but we did move in. We were home.

To see more posts on “home,” please visit the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock.

Top photograph: “Home” in New Orleans. Bottom photograph: “Home” in St. Louis.


TravisMizzou said...

I still remember that large pile of dirt in the yard we use to climb up. Crazy to think that summer was 25 years ago now. Wow.

Nancy said...

Homelessness, beehives, and the Sunday New York Times--you can't just make stuff like that up and throw it in a story. That's what makes re-telling the real ones so much fun.

JC Dude said...

Ten for me bro...but the one we live in now has been the longest...11 years!

Louise Gallagher said...

You make me nostalgic for the home I never had! We moved... a lot.

Fatha Frank said...

Ok, I have to ask, what fraternity? Sig Ep here. So counting the house and apartments while in school I came up with 12. I'm surprised it's that many. Grew up 18 years in the same home. Then college, where the number skyrockets. Hmmm, good reminder just how transient our lives really are.

Maureen said...

How do we manage?!

I was pregnant when our house was sold and we had not found another one yet. I cried when the papers were signed, thinking I'd have no place to call "home" by the time my only arrived (he came an unexpected month early). It all worked out fine but what stress.

Since graduating from college last May, my only has lived at least 6, maybe 8 places in NYC; he's just moved again. He's learning to pack lightly.

Helen said...

I have had three homes. One with my parents, one that I moved into when I got married, and the one I am in now which we purchased together about six years ago.

Lisa notes... said...

You've had quite a few homes! I'm guessing you've learned not to accumulate much clutter. I've not moved very often but I learned that lesson quickly.

Home is where the heart is.

Anonymous said...

i'm thinking i have lived in fourteen places.

i have lived in this house since dec. of 1990.

how could any of us ever do it with out the help of others?

good story.

A Joyful Noise said...

Enjoyed your post. For me I count 22 homes. We too sold a house and the builder was not ready for us. We spent several weeks in an RV that he loaned to us. Another house also sold too early and we needed to rent for 11 months. The landlord decided to sell his rent house we were using, and gave us notice. We needed 2 more months and our daughter found us a house sit which worked out fine. Glorious days of stress and finding God's will. Home is now in a modular home, and we are content. Another move - who knows - maybe!

Patricia said...

What a fun little stroll down memory lane! =) Eight homes if you include the bouncing around in college years. Thankful that we have been able to stay put during these parenting years.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Reading of your experience, Glynn, I can only think that truly, home is where the heart is.

BTW, I've lived in 14 homes over the course of 48 years. My mother is amazed that I can describe in detail the home we moved from when I was age 2.

Tracy Krauss said...

Wow. You got me thinking. I have moved thirty times in my life, but this did not include dorms etc... Yikes! I can't keep track

A Simple Country Girl said...

Although I am on the west side of the USA, so much of this sound familiar... the moving and moving and moving.