If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?
I don’t just need a home base. I need a place to feel safe and secure. I need a place where I’m comfortable and free to be me. I think I also need space that is spacious enough so that I don’t feel as if I’m living in a closet. I don’t feel that way now, but I have in the past.
The first place I called “home” was a small, what they called a “railroad house,” which is a house with one room laid out after the other in a successive, linear line. These houses were semi attached so when the house attached to us exterminated their roach problem, all the roaches had to do was cross the border into our space. I remember coming home after a weekend away and all the roaches greeted us from the ceiling of our kitchen. Yeah. To this day, I have a supernatural fear of living in an apartment building, or any place where you share the building with other tenants. We share this building with other tenants, but I am comfortable here. When the roach problem broke out, we knew exactly where it originated from and maybe that made the difference. I high tailed it to Home Depot and purchased $60.00 worth of a spray that took care of all types of bugs, then shared it with our neighbors because if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do it right. Maybe that is why this place seems better than an apartment building with a shitload more tenants. When we first moved here, we also had a spider problem. You could tell because they were everywhere and the bushes outside were glazed over with a silken white covering… the. webs. It’s funny, roaches are the only bugs I don’t have any qualms about killing. It’s like each one is a time bomb, just waiting to shoot out an egg case to terrorize the world. Sci Fi stuff. Oh shit, I’ve made a whole paragraph off topic. The house I grew up in has the memories, regardless. I miss it and I wish that I could tour the inside. A contractor bought it from my dad after my mother passed away and the front of it has changed so much. It looks like a mosque now. They pulled out my mother’s peach tree that she planted from a pit she threw into the front garden. It was even producing peaches… THAT really killed me, but it’s not my house any more and I’d love to see what they did on the inside. The inside of this house that I knew was a tight, cramped space. My only escape was to the basement which was cooler, but dark. Still, the memories.
Somewhere in between here, I was married for eight years and had other living arrangements, then moved back to the family home before eventually making it out to the home I have today. My first marriage, we moved into the in-laws’ second floor, four room apartment. It was a beautiful apartment and it had character. It was indeed spacious, ample closet space, and we furnished it with all new stuff. The bathroom was a decent size. The kitchen was on the small side, but big enough to cook and support a table area. We had a little nook between closets to put our Christmas tree in, we had a window seat in the extra room, we had ample sunlight and I could even put my plants outside the kitchen window on top of the extension of the first floor. The apartment was situated in Bensonhurst, NY, which was a really good, Italian area. I say Italian because I am Italian and I experienced a part of my culture that was never so apparent to me before because I grew up in a Jewish area. The best was being able to buy raw olives at the end of September, just in time to “cook” in vinegar for the holiday season. Just one thing. I was not comfortable there. It was the husband, it was the husband’s family always being around and influencing our state of sanity, and inevitable insanity.
After seven years, we moved to Sayreville, NJ. I fell in love with that little Polish town. I felt that I could be a part of something. The traffic throughout the town was just starting to get out of control, however; but I found back street ways of getting around. There was history there, so I made it a point of visiting the Historical Society. I had gotten a street map of the town from the clerk’s office and in a matter of three months, I got around like nobody’s business. We owned a house. The minute we walked in there, we felt the positive energy. A good family lived there and it showed. It was a converted Cape style home converted into upstairs, downstairs. Two bathrooms, three bedrooms, one being a master bedroom, tremendous, with a walk-in closet which was going to serve as a nursery when the time came. The first floor had another bathroom, laundry room, living room, dining room and, what we made, an entertainment room with a TV, and stereo. It was really comfortable in there. We had a back yard and I planted a garden. O.M.G. My own garden! Oh, forgot to mention that we had a really nice kitchen with dishwasher. Ah, that was the best thing I could have… but it was not to last. I feel so old now, realizing that I’m too old to physically maintain anything like this again. I think I’m going to cry right now. Well, barely nine months after we moved in, he decided he wanted a divorce. It was Thanksgiving day and he called me up from his mother’s house in Brooklyn to let me know, the shit. I knew that I could not afford the house, and we had no equity at all built up in it, so I moved out.
My next situation was renting a room on a weekly basis. The only thing I could afford. My whole room was smaller than my closet in Sayreville. The bed was broken, but oddly that was the best sleep I could ever have. The break in the bed sort of made it like a hammock and that incline was good for my back. The good thing about that place was that I became very friendly with my landlord and eventually, she trusted me enough so that I could have the run of the whole place. That situation did not last very long because the neighbors complained about her renting out her rooms. I had three other room-renting experiences before my job situation came to an end because of a merger. I lasted as long as I could on my own before moving back to my parent’s house in Brooklyn. That was the darkest day of my life. I had to acknowledge for real that I would never be able to support myself. Ironically, this was the best thing that could happen to me. I got the chance to spend those last years of my mom’s life with her and we were able to at least start to mend our dysfunctional relationship and I’ll always be grateful for that.
Fast forward to present day. I am in my second marriage to a wonderful guy and we have a little boy. We’ve been renting the first floor of a private home in Elizabeth, NJ. for over nine years now, but I find myself torn. Don’t get me wrong. I love the space we have. It has a lot of potential and our public rooms are quite spacious, but the problem I have is living in an urban environment. I really don’t want to get started on that again, but if you follow this blog, you’ve read about that before and I don’t want to complain. As I said, our living room and dining room are very big, and the kitchen is the biggest kitchen I’ve had so far. Lots of space. We have a front porch and a little raised terrace off the kitchen. I have plants out there. We have a backyard, but we don’t really use it. I did have a small garden out there up to last year and it was great. I realize that this was never meant to be a permanent home, but we’ve been here almost a decade now. What makes matters worse is that our financial situation is not a steady one. Where to next? I feel like I’m in a fog, a dream and that I need to click my heels three times but WHERE are the glittery red mary jane shoes?
Well, if things change I’m sure that I’ll write about it, but for now, we are taking things one day at a time… and for now this is where I’ll be. So much more now to consider before picking everything up and moving to…. well, anywhere. I refuse to do this in haste because we have so much to lose; and by this I am referring to our son’s education. Gone are the days when I’d pack a box or two of my stuff, throw them into the back seat of my car and move along. Just the act of moving is a monumental undertaking… whew.
So for now, this is where the house from Kansas will rest….
Footnote: I just spent 3 hours trying to get pictures of my collection of living spaces, but have failed because of sheesh, privacy issues I guess.
- Dream Home, Dream On (dragonmommie.wordpress.com)
- Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss~Daily Prompt: There’s No Place Like Home