I’ve moved 50 times. No, that isn’t a typographical error. I didn’t accidentally hit the wrong key. I actually have a list with addresses and dates and notes. In fact, I’ve been telling people for years that I’ve lived in 41 different “homes”, but when I checked my list tonight I found that I was wrong. I hadn’t looked at it in years and I’d overlooked a page the last time I did! I’d also left off a house that I found pictures of when I was playing around with the new scanner we bought for Christmas. I’ve been thinking about all this because I was looking for something today and it occurred to me that it is a miracle I have managed to save anything from my childhood, or from any other year for that matter.
I do remember most of the places I’ve lived, which I suppose is remarkable. Some were very interesting. Some were comfortable and secure. Some were “dumps”. A couple had fireplaces. Several had swimming pools. One had a darkroom. I’ve lived in houses and duplexes and apartments and mobile homes. I’ve lived in a van, a motel, and a motor home. I lived in twenty-five homes before Gary and I married. We’ve lived in twenty-five homes since then. We’ve owned, rented, leased, and sub-leased. My husband and I have lived in our current home for thirteen years. I lived in some former residences for only a week.
By far, the most memorable house of my childhood was one that my grandparents also lived in for a short time. It belonged to a member of the Forestiere family, who also owned “Forestiere’s Underground Gardens”. The Underground Gardens were a Fresno, CA landmark for years. The seven-acre underground complex included living quarters, tunnels, gardens, and even a chapel. It was a tourist attraction and as I remember, my grandparents lived in a house on the grounds and my grandfather did some work for the Forestieres. I visited the gardens often. The most distinctive memory I have is of the strange sweet smell of the tunnels. A few miles away was “the ranch” where we lived. It was a modest house, but it also had tunnels, a huge wine cellar, and lots of retaining walls made from the local hardpan. It even had a bread oven outdoors. It had a modest orchard and wonderful garden.
Several of my childhood homes were in the country. We lived on a dairy when I was seven. I remember feeding calves with a bottle. I remember Mom having a bird of some kind. I remember watching Dad plant alfalfa. We lived on another farm when I was nine. I remember learning to drive a car so I could help with the hay harvest. I don’t remember what I drove, but I drove it very slowly across the field while the guys loaded hay on the trailer. I think I was ten or twelve before I ever drove a tractor. By the time I was thirteen we had moved again and I had learned to prune grapes and tend irrigation ditches. We lived in a small house with lots of rabbit and pigeon pens beside it. I remember having my own room and getting new linoleum.
I’ve lived in four states- California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. (I’ve visited 32 states by the way.) Each has its own merits. I loved the beaches and mountains and even the deserts of California. Since I spent most of my childhood there it seems most like “home”. Gary is also a native Californian. The best view we ever had was in Lone Pine, CA. We lived with our three small children in a cramped, converted garage, but it was worth it for the beauty of the mountains overlooking the little town. Lone Pine is at the base of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous states. It’s 14,496 feet high and we’ve been as far as 11,000 ft. Had to turn back before reaching the peak because of ice and snow. For some reason we never attempted it again.
We lived a short time in Texas while my father worked on a dam near Georgetown. I just remember all the birdfeeders our neighbor had hanging in her trees and how the red birds would congregate there. Oh, and one of our other neighbors was a genius. He was nine and in high school! He taught me how to play chess. I also lived in Texas for a short time while teaching there. I lived in Greenville during the week and here over the weekends.
We lived in Iowa a few years after my husband and I got married. His family founded the town of Wilton, IA. It’s a pleasant town in the midst of corn and soy fields. A nice place to live if you like snow. I don’t. We never quite adjusted to the winter. We’ve visited since then, but I have no desire to move back.
We came to Caddo, Oklahoma in a round about way that is a long story for another day. I’ve actually lived here several times. Moved, came back. Moved, came back. It seemed small and stifling when I was in high school. It seems small and secure now that I’m older. Oklahoma has just the right weather for me. A little cold, a little snow, and a whole lot of hot. I actually enjoy the hot, humid summers. (Remind me of that in July, will you?) I enjoy the people. I love the prairie.
But I ramble. Back to my search. I was looking for a photo, which I found. I have lots of photos. I have scrapbooks and diaries. I also have mementos from school, like my fifth grade social studies report. I have a few keepsakes from my children’s lives. I’ve managed to save little bits and pieces of my life even though I’ve moved. But I’ve lost a lot of things too. My children will tell you all about the time we were moving from California to Oklahoma, had a flat, and ended up leaving one of my huge elephant statues on the side of the road. I remember leaving a box of things at my mom’s house in between our moves. When she built a new house and also moved, the box disappeared. I’m not even certain what was in it. I see photos of things now and I think “What happened to that?”
My oldest daughter told me the other day that she felt “restless” so she rearranged her furniture. I laughed and told her that was “pretend moving”. I’ve done the same thing many times! I’ve moved so much that for the first few years we were here I moved the furniture each spring. I got edgy and bored if I didn’t. I still move a few things now and then.
Will I move again? Probably. We’ve rented this home from a dear friend for a very long time. But we’re thinking of buying another house. We’re thinking of moving closer to town. We’re thinking of a newer house, a new garden. We’re thinking of changing our lives a bit before we settle into those “pre-retirement years”. I’m not sure what we will do. The details are up to God. But I have lots of experience with moving. If it happens I think I’ll remember how to do it. And I have lots of stuff that will go with me. Wherever we are will be home, and as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home!”