Compared to a lot of people, I haven’t had a lot of homes. I’ve actually moved a surprisingly low number of times. And I don’t have any plans to move again. Well, at least not anytime soon.
Some of these homes I don’t remember. I don’t remember the apartment we lived in when I was born. To be fair, we moved when I was a toddler. But my parents say they had a bird, a big white one. I find this a little amusing, as my parents were not bird people. But I’ve seen the pictures. They had a big, white bird.
I don’t really remember the brief time we lived with my grandparents when my family moved back to Buffalo, New York. Oh, I remember hanging out at the house, just not living there.
The apartment we moved to when I was in about first grade, is in a little sharper focus. I remember learning to ride my bike down the street, right in the middle. There weren’t any sidewalks. I remember a lot of cars. But since all of the cars belonged to people who lived in the apartment complex, it wasn’t that dangerous.
I very definitely remember our first house. I mean, I lived there from 1979 to 1996, when I got married. Tiny place, small yard. A big VFW post across the street, with a giant front yard. We used to play there. The VFW hated it, but the old couple who lived in as caretakers liked us, so the turned a blind eye. There was a massive tree with a tire swing in the front yard. And in the back, there were tons of trees, perfect for climbing on a summer day with a book, hiding out from my younger brothers and sister.
I count my college dorm rooms as home, too. All four of them. In fact the entire campus was home. I remember leaving from winter break one year and breaking my mother’s heart—because I referred to college as “home.”
I got married in 1996 and moved to Pittsburgh. Our first apartment was a hole. Really. The lopsided second floor of a slightly dilapidated house. If you dropped a ball in the kitchen, it always rolled to the exact same spot. In the winter, ice formed on the inside of the windows. My husband and I used to wrap ourselves in fleece blankets belted with rope to stay warm.
And finally, there’s the house we live in now. To my amazement, I realized the other day we’ve been here for 15 years, since 1998. It had, um, interesting décor when we moved in. All these years later, we finally have it decorated the way we want, lots of hardwood floors, bookcases, and Tuscan colors. I brought both of my kids home here as babies. We had a dog here. We planted flowers and vegetables. I really can’t imagine leaving.
All of these places have something in common. I left, or have, a piece of my heart there. I still refer to “going home” for the holidays (next week is Thanksgiving, and we’re going to visit my dad and step-mother; remember “there’s no place like home for the holidays”).
And every place, even those tiny dorm rooms and drafty apartment, had books. Piles of books. We talk frequently about needed to weed them out, and stop buying them. But we just can’t. Used book stores, friends’ book launches, we’re book addicts to the nth degree. And we love it.
Because honestly, I just can’t imagine a home without my books. And maybe that’s the thing that always makes a place feel like home to me.