So I’ve talked about places I’ve lived. But this blog is about a being a repository of my memories as much as anything so here are musings on 13 houses. Not the places so much (which I will reference) but the houses…the homes.
1. The first house I
remember. Halifax, Massachusetts. I never know if I remember this house for
real, or if I remember it from my Mother’s photo albums. It had a huge yard, like houses did back then
(this would be like 1966 or so) and my parents would set up a sprinkler in the
summer in the front. The neighborhood
kids would come over, and we’d run through it, screaming and having a grand old
time. In the winter, piles of snow
gathered at the end of the driveway (this is almost surely a memory from a
picture) and my brother and I would climb it and throw snowballs at each other.
2. Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I will always remember our house in Pecan Park, which was a former pecan orchard. Our house had a huge pecan tree out front, until Hurricane Camille came and it flew away, never to be seen again. That tree must have been at least a 100 years old, but gone. It was a brick house, with a single carport and a wall along the side of the carport. My brother and I pretended we were in the Olympics (this was 1970-ish), and would walk it like a balance beam. If I feel in my hairline, I can still find the scar I have from falling off, knocking my head, and getting my first set of stitches.
3. Gautier, Mississippi (next town over from the aforementioned Ocean Springs). My parents were fascinated by this rather forward-thinking architect who worked on the Gulf Coast at the time by the name of Carroll B. Ishee. They would drag us hither and yon (because we were pre-teens, everything is a drag) to various Ishee Houses along the Coast and dream of owning one themselves. Eventually giving up on THAT particular dream (expense) they bought a “kit home” and had it built on this jungle of a lot, but incorporated a lot of Ishee elements. The house was up on pilings (the land was rather swampy) and there was this amazing deck, with a TREE growing through it, and a little bridge and elevated walkway from the street to the house. I wish I had pictures. It had one of those Orange 70s free-standing metal fireplaces, and an open floor plan. Very NOT Mississippi traditional, and we loved it. My Mom says the roof always leaked, lol. This was the last house in Mississippi we lived in.
4. Newport News, Virginia. We rented a 2 story, 3 bedroom townhouse in a development called Lochaven, around, appropriately, a lake. There were ducks, which we took many pictures of. The primary memory that sticks out here is that I practically burned down the place attempting to cook French fries. Literally. I was a senior in high school (I think), and put a pot of oil onto the electric stove. I’m standing there, in this rather small kitchen, waiting for the oil to heat, when the whole thing literally just bursts into flame. I slap a lid on it, run it through the living room and the sliding glass doors, onto the back patio, and run back into the kitchen. The ceiling and cabinets are BLACK. I am crying, and spend the next several hours before my parents get home attempting to clean the kitchen because I know my Dad is going to be pissed BEYOND belief. Thank GOD my parents had renter’s insurance. Good moral to the story.
5. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I hated this place, and this house, and everything about it, other than learning computers. My bedroom was, weirdly, off the kitchen. I remember having huge screaming matches with my brother and my Dad. And that’s enough about that.
6. Seaford, Virginia. I’m married at this point, and living in this ugly, barracks-like apartment in Newport News. One of the gentleman I worked with offered me the opportunity to rent his family’s “summer cottage” in Seaford, in York County. A tiny cottage, on the York River, with a garage. Ex-husband and I decide to take it, and it was glorious in the summer, fall, spring. Coldest effin’ place I’ve ever lived (including Alaska, mind you) in the winter. The only heat was these completely ineffective electric baseboard heaters, and I don’t think the place was insulated at all. And that was the end of that.
7. Augusta, Georgia. Moved back in with Mom and Dad after the first divorce. I have no recollection of this house other than it was close to everything, and a long drive from my job.
8. Hampton, Virginia. Left the parental home the second time and moved back to Virginia. I have no idea what prompted me to do this, but I rented a bottom floor studio apartment in a recently restored Victorian home very close to Hampton Roads. It was within walking distance to my job, and Mom came up to visit and helped me furnish it. It was cute.
9. Crescent Beach, St. Augustine, Florida. This house was on the dunes, on Anastasia Island, which is a barrier island off the coast of St. Augustine. Our landlord was mentally ill, but left us alone. We had this enormous philodendron, that sat on a shelf on the landing of the second floor and hung over a “window” all the way down the wall to the first floor. Literally to the floor. When we left for Colorado, we had to leave that plant behind, and that was HARD.
10. Boulder, Colorado. We rented a bottom floor apartment in what had been a single family home. With no heat (you would think I would have learned) except a wood stove. Christ, that back bedroom was cold. It was about halfway up Boulder Canyon, closer to Nederland than to Boulder. We met some great people there—the people upstairs became fast friends. I cut off the tip of my left first finger attempting to chop kindling. There were ups and downs.
11. Missoula, Montana. How I love this house. I wish we’d never left and gone to Alaska. We’d have outgrown it if the marriage had lasted (which it wouldn’t have, but that’s another story), but my God, it was a lovely home. Very small, less than 900 sq ft, I think. It had been built in 1910, for a conductor on the Great Northern Railroad, and was on a double lot. The folks before us had restored much of it. It had the original stained-glass transoms, a stunning built-in breakfront in the dining room with a pass-through to a Hoosier cabinet with a zinc countertop on the kitchen side….and an enormous yard with an apple tree, raspberry patch, and separate garage. It was hard to leave.
12. Eagle River, Alaska. In the South Fork Valley, this house is still occupied by my ex. My daughter grew up there. It was a fine house, in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It was hard leaving. But necessary. It wasn’t mine and I quit-claimed it. Probably not the most brilliant idea ever, but better for all concerned. I wanted to make sure my daughter could live there without any fuss.
13. Rio Rancho, New Mexico. This house. THIS HOUSE. It’s the home of my heart. It’s me and us. We decorate the outside for Christmas. Renovating during the pandemic was an absolute nightmare, but hey, new tile and paint throughout. We survived. We. It feels like HOME the most of them all.