How many times do you remember moving?
The first house that I can remember living in; only certain areas of the house are part of the memories I can’t recall the entire floor plan. Particular events that took place in that house.
Cindy cut my bangs. We were home alone. Really young. I sat in my father’s lap to watch Milton Berle on T.V. with him. There was an enclosed front porch. A couple of times, I sat in his lap out there. He let me get my tiny fingers tangled in his chest hairs. Those were the good memories.
It was the same house where he pushed my face into the ottoman because I wet my pants while sitting there. He swatted me because I didn’t grasp the shoe tying thing. The same house where I got a big rug burn on my little chin when he cuffed the back of my head with his big hand and slammed me across the room. Why? You may wonder.
It was Saturday night. He took me with him to buy the Sunday paper. There was a gum ball machine; he gave me some pennies. Get one for each of your sisters too. My hands were little. I had four gum balls. It was a struggle to keep from dropping them. A small paper bag would have been perfect. He was talking to someone at the counter.
I may not have had the words to tell him what was needed; or he may ignored my request. The bag was never received. We finally made our way back to the car. Long before car seats, I stood on the front seat next to him. My hands were now turning colors from the gum balls. Licking my palms was not a good solution. I knew they were for my sisters but just couldn’t hold them anymore.
All of the gum balls ended up in my mouth. He never noticed the predicament I was in. Not until we walked into the living room. Then he made a big production about the surprise he had for my sisters. When he realized that I had spoiled the hoopla with my problem solving choice I was flying across the room before I knew what happened. Probably spit the gum wad out; maybe swallowed it. I don’t remember.
Then we moved. I really don’t recall the actual moving activity. Just that we suddenly were living in a different house. Much bigger. That house was our home through many more memories of abusive episodes. Many of them directed at Mom; plenty at us. Then he disappeared. Supposedly he was taking his shirts to the laundry. Must have been in China. It was years before I saw him again.
After about ten years or so, Mom remarried. Francis, was an amazing man. He was divorced and had custody of his four kids. Only the youngest of his kids was still at home. He thought the big house we had lived in for so long was unsafe. We moved into his two bedroom, one bath house. It had a finished basement which became something close to a dormitory. The intention was to move us out of the electrical hazards of the big old house until a better solution came along.
Our grandparents were downsizing from the big farm house that Pipere had built a long time before. Their new house was going up on the lot next door. Mom and Francis bought the farm house. Things were getting confusing with three houses. They became referred to as; the red house (big fire hazard); the green house (2 bedroom/basement dorm/one bathroom); and the white house (farm house). Yes, the color reference was apt.
From the white house, I moved to an apartment with my newly betrothed spouse. I don’t recall why, but we moved from there – conveniently located a short distance from both of our jobs – to a rural hamlet miles out of town. Conveniently located only to the barn where he and a buddy were building a dune buggy. Piece by piece. Many of the engine parts were stored in a dormer closet in our upstairs apartment.
As it was, I had a lot of time on my hands. I took a real estate course. Passed the state exam, hung my license with a broker. After working full time during the week, I would go to the real estate office evenings.
My career in real estate never really “took off.” But we did buy a house. No, we bought a big detached garage. The house was nice too. The dune buggy was finished and sold. He moved on to motocross bikes. If he wasn’t in the garage working on a bike, he was off racing them every weekend. I went to some of the races, but found it very stressful standing along the track waiting for him to come around. And the noise! We eventually divorced.
Another move. Another rickety, outside stairs up to the apartment. The windows were close to the floor. The ceiling was angled, almost sitting on top of the windows. It was always dark. Sue needed a place to stay. She worked nights, I worked days. She stayed in the little dark upstairs apartment but we were usually not there at the same time.
Ruth also needed a place to stay. The three of us found a three bedroom downstairs apartment. We moved in together. Any body counting? We shared that place for a while. It worked out pretty well for as long as we needed it to. My next move was outta town.
St. Louis. My good friend, Judy lived there. I roomed with her until I found a job and my own place. The place was roomy and airy. It was really the first time I lived alone for any length of time. I’m not sure I adjusted to the silence. I met a guy.
We seemed to hit it off. He asked me to move in with him. I did. We met at work, his place was much closer to work. When he finished his internship, we moved together back to Illinois, Skokie. He had a long commute into the city. I found a job within walking distance of the apartment. After his two years of residency training – we moved.
To Miami. He had a job before we moved but we didn’t have a place to live yet. We stayed with his parents; we house sat for one of his colleagues while his family went skiing; we found a townhouse to rent. Eventually I found a job. We found an area that felt like a good place to buy a house. There were construction delays. Our lease was up before the house was completed. We had to move to another place on a month-to-month lease. When the house was finished we moved again. We got married; had a daughter. Got divorced. He kept the house. We had joint custody of our daughter Yup.
I had to move. Found a townhouse in foreclosure. I rented it until it could be purchased. It had been a meth lab. It needed cosmetic work but it was all doable. Painting, removal of disgusting carpeting; replaced it with ceramic tile and fresh carpet in the bedrooms. It was perfect for Beth and I. We had a parrot and a turtle. A small back patio was a great spot for the turtle in a little plastic pool filled with mulch. Until the turtle got struck by lightening! The bird was safe inside.
I met another guy. We got married. We rescued a dog. Beth loved the dog. Parvo virus infected the dog during the week Beth was with her dad. Instead of making the sensible, practical decision to put the dog down, we invested a ton of money to treat it. She spent a few days in intensive care at the animal hospital. The dog was home when Beth came back to the townhouse. The dog suffered brain damage from the virus or the treatment. From that experience, we learned to make animal care decisions without emotional involvement or attachment.
Before long, we had a baby on the way. We needed more space. We found a house in a good school district; close to our jobs; close to Beth’s dad. Sold the townhouse, bought the house and moved in. Found a home for the brain damaged dog. Had a variety of other dogs and the first of a series of my karmic cats. We had another baby. We could have stayed in the house but we wanted a pool.
We found a beautiful house with a pool in the same school district. Loved that house. Kids and I used the pool a lot. Two neighbor ladies and I did water aerobics every morning at 5:30 for years. Then the strawberry fields nearby were rezoned for residential. Egads. The traffic was horrible getting the kids to school and me to the train in the morning. Frank left early enough to beat the back-up. More houses. More cars. More traffic. Beth was living on campus at UM.
Time to down size. Move away from the chaotic traffic of west Kendall closer to the train. Tommy and Molly didn’t want to change schools so they rode with me to the train station then caught the county bus going west to the middle school. Our new location was two blocks from a middle school. They kept commuting. Tommy one school year away from high school, Molly two. Tommy was accepted at the science and math magnet high school on Key Biscayne. Molly was in dance magnet in middle school so kept up the commute. The high school in our neighborhood accepted her into their dance program; so ended her commute.
Years flew by. Tommy went to Tallahassee for college. Molly started her world travels couch surfing and back packing and then started studies locally at FIU. She moved in with a guy. Moved back home. Did more travelling. Moved to Miami Beach. Frank decided he wanted independence. We sold the house.
Frank sublet Molly’s place on the Beach while she was studying abroad in Australia. He and I were supposed to share custody of the dogs. I rented a townhouse in a guarded community where the dogs were welcome. Frank never picked them up.
One of my sisters wanted to spend winters in Miami, so the townhouse was selected with that in mind. By the time she came down,she met a guy who came with her as well as another sister. It was cramped but just for the winter. A few months after they returned to Illinois, Thom needed a change of scenery. He came back to Miami and moved in with me. Winter rolled around again. Clearly we needed more space for the snowbirds. Found a great house. Good location. Lots of space; four bedrooms; fenced yard for dogs and a pool. We moved in and stretched out. For two winters.
Landlord raised the rent. Wouldn’t fix the leaky pool or roof or air conditioner. Wanted three months rent up front to pay his taxes. Trouble. Found another house. Very close to train. No pool but great location. Six bedrooms;two kitchens; enclosed back patio. Two driveways. Now, I decided to retire.
Yup another move. Looking at the central west coast of Florida. Found a 55+ community that really “feels” right. Just have to find an available unit. One of my sisters wants to buy too!
To be continued.