Monday, January 24, 2011

Memory Monday: Home

The challenge for Week No. 4 is to “Write about your home.” For me that would be “homes,” plural. As you might gather from many of my “Memory” posts, I have lived in a lot of places. Some of them I don’t even remember. Either I was too young, or they went by so fast in a succession of moves that they are little more than a blur in my memory.

From my childhood, three places stand out for length of residence and for bringing the word “home” to mind for me: our house on Pico Street in San Bernardino (from about age 4 to age 8), Lankershim Street in Highland, California (first time, from about age 2 to 4, second time age 8 to 13), and the Housing Project on Pecan Street in Seymour, Texas (age 15 to 18). In addition to these there were all the places my father was posted in Pennsylvania, Texas, and California when he was in the Air Force (up to age 2 for me) and the four houses we lived in when I was in eighth and ninth grades.

Me, my mother, and Buster the dog 
in front of our house on Lankershim Street (first residence, pre-addition)

The main quality that characterized our early houses is something I can only describe as “the potential exceeded the reality.” As in, “We can fix this up.” I’ve written several posts that describe the house on Lankershim Street:

Memory Monday: My Playhouse

Memory Monday: Construction

Memory Monday: Junk in Our Yard

Memory Monday: Fire

Memory Monday: The Mulberry Tree

I suppose I haven’t really written much about the house on Pico Street. It had three bedrooms and one bath. It had one of those rambler designs: you entered the living room, the kitchen/dining room was on the right, and the bedrooms and bathroom were on the left. There was a carport in front and a patio in the back. Pretty bare bones, but it seem nice and comfortable to us. I remember the pyracantha bushes and the lady ferns. We knew and were friends with many of our neighbors.

I “visit” the Pico Street house and the Lankershim Street house occasionally on Google Maps; they’re both still there. The neighborhoods look a bit more threadbare now than they did then.

We now live in the same house we’ve lived in since 1983. It’s more modest and decrepit than the homes of most of our friends and acquaintances.  But still, I do not want to move.

Many of our friends and associates are starting to talk about retiring and “getting out of the Washington, D.C. area” - with good reason. As in many “metro areas,” especially those that are not dying off from blight, traffic and congestion have been getting worse and worse and civility is often a casualty of those developments. These friends would like to move to warmer - in terms of both weather and local attitude - climes. Towns and small cities where you can walk to many of the places you need and want to visit regularly. Or even, for a while, cozy little urban enclaves in the cities of their youth, where both sophisticated entertainment and convenience stores are close at hand.

Still, I do not want to move. This is home. We have five cats and a lizard buried here. We have half a lifetime of memories, and I do not want to be physically separated from those memories. There are so many things that need to be repaired and the walls almost bulge with our collections of books and music that verge on hoarder status. But I grew up with “ramshackle,” “needs fixin’,” and “runnin’ outa room,” and I am used to it. So I ain’t moving.


  1. I know how you feel about moving, we have been in our house for 20 years and I don't want to move. It may need LOTS of repairs but it is Home!

  2. Greta, you captured the essence of "home." Thanks.

  3. Harriet and Joan - Thanks for stopping by! Harriet - I'm happy to see someone who feels the same way. Joan - "Home" is definitely something that means a great deal to us.

  4. We've lived in about 25 places since we married 47 years ago. But only 2 while the kids were growing up. Those 2 were home...where we live now is home. Sometimes I wish we'd of stayed in one place. But then....... My cousin has lived in the same house since she married over 50 years ago. She can't find anything. I use moving times as a time to clear out the junk :)

  5. I can think of a million things that are wrong with my house of 30 years. I have often wanted to move, but not so much now. Well maybe, if they let me take the door where we marked my children's height labeled with the date and "with shoes" or "without".

  6. What a touching story. My parents still live in my childhood home. Even though they spend some of their time in Florida, they still maintain their home in the Northeast - mostly for the memories I suspect!


  7. Home is a small word for such a big feeling of security and comfort. Nice post Greta!

  8. Mary - Oh, yeah, having to move would definitely force us to "clean up our act"! What I'm hoping is that as we are able to remodel rooms, having to move the stuff out of a room will make us sort through the stuff and throw some of it out.

    Margel - We have so many of those "marked" parts of the house - even the basement stairs scratched up by our "first generation" of cats make me get sentimental.

    mahoganybox - I think your parents are wise!

    Southwest Arkie - So true; nothing makes me feel as secure as coming home to this house each day.

  9. Greta, I think I related more to your current home! I bought my home from my dad - a 1970's ranch home. I've got 3 cats and a dog buried in the back and raised 5 kids here. We've gone through 3 stages of "adding-on-to-the-wood shop" and are beginning to fix things that have needed attention for years. All my friends and family have new homes, but... there are too many memories here and I can make the cosmetic improvements I want in years to come. I ain't movin' either!

  10. Joanne - It's wonderful to hear from someone who feels the same way! And gee, just adjust the numbers, and what you said describes me exactly!

  11. Greta - wonderful feelings of home come to mind in your post. My parents moved from my childhood home long after all of us kids left, and it was a new time for them to enjoy being "empty-nesters" in a place they so dearly loved. But, for selfish reasons of course I found it very difficult to help pack and clear out the clutter they had chosen not to take - I ended up going home with a truck load and each item holds memories of "home" for me. My own home is a place full of memories for us and our children and I imagine they will feel the same should we ever decide to relocate to Mayberry :) anybody know where that is?

  12. Cindy - It becomes harder and harder to part with the physical aspect of memories. When I'm going through stuff to be thrown out, I find myself putting together everything associated with a particular memory, then saying "This one thing will be enough to remember; I don't need the rest of that stuff." It's the only way I can part with some of these things. I remember having to quickly sort through my mother's things after she died and how difficult it was; I'm sure you felt the same sorting through your parents possessions.