All the homes I’ve lived in. All the ways they shaped me.

I realized when we bought our house this year that I have lived a LOT of places. Especially compared to my parents or most people in their generations. I wanted to write a post looking back at how all those places shaped both me and my ideas of home…

Home #1: My first house was a townhouse in Tempe, AZ. I only know it from pictures. I have no actual memories from it originally, but I do have a few memories from after my parents got divorced and my dad moved back there. I have memories of milk crates as chairs, bunnies my sister and I got for easter hopping around the backyard, and wanting to play on the stairs way more than I was supposed. Although I don’t have any memories from when I was a baby, only stories and pictures that I’m glad my parents documented for me, I know that this was a place where I learned about family both whole and broken, and where I learned about simplicity and humility. I also learned the beauty of hand me downs- I had a crib here as a baby and it is the same one I use for my babies.

Home #2: This home is where I have my most vivid childhood memories- My sister and I shared a room together and we had a playroom right next door. We had a garden in the backyard and I distinctly remember celebrating a birthday in that backyard with a home made maypole. I remember the layout of that house vividly- the den with our computer where family would stay when they visited for Christmas, the kitchen where we helped my mom bake, the lazy Susan cupboard that I was endlessly fascinated with. We have lots of home videos here and I have lots of mixed memories from this home. I learned creativity and my love of performing here. I learned the joy of big backyards and sleepovers. I learned the heartache of all the places kids can hide and still hear their parents fighting. I learned all the places you kids can hide a flashlight to try and escape into a book during long nights when you can’t sleep. I still feel a pang of “home” every time we drive past it on the way to visit my mom. This house happens to be just a few blocks from where she lives now aka, Home #3.

Home #3: This is still my mom and stepdad’s current home. I remain amazed by how high the ceilings are and I remember being SO excited about my sister and I having separate rooms and a Jack and Jill bathroom. I spent so much time jumping into the pool in the backyard, somewhere that still feels like a haven. This home contains many memories of even more sleepovers and waking up before everyone else to drive myself to a high school that was quite a commute and also coming home a little too late and wondering how much trouble I might be in, and of course Christmas mornings with a giant tree and wrapping paper everywhere. It is where I returned to have a wedding shower and baby showers. In this home I learned the joy of entertaining and hospitality and appreciation of the smell of home cooked food.

Home #4: This remains my dad’s home. He had other homes I visited while growing up- places where technically my sister and I had a shared room and could call it home, but none of those other places ever really felt like home- this place finally felt a bit more permanent and eventually I even got a room of my own here where I stayed up way too late on instant messenger while doing the seemingly endless high school homework. I had clouds painted on the ceiling and I found it so calming and happy. I had my 16th birthday party here and danced into the night with friends from all different phases of my life. I was also here for a bit the first year out of college when everything seemed to be the worst.  In this home I learned how to decorate with things that made me happy, I learned the joy of toasting with friends. I learned about independence and making hard decisions.

Home #5-7: I’m going to combing my next 3 “homes” as they were all dorms/an apartment I lived in while at Pepperdine so we’ll just call Pepperdine that “home”. This included my first dorm where I met an amazing roomie even though we were just randomly thrown together, a dorm I shared with an incredible woman who is still one of my closest friends and fellow mom confidants, and an apartment shared with close friends where we spent way too much money at target to decorate for every season and definitely broke a lot of campus rules (sorry to my wonderful aforementioned friend who happened to be our RA and was probably put in a tough spot with some of that rule breaking!) I’m also counting the Pepperdine green room/callboard hallway as one of those homes as I slept as much there as I did in my dorms due to many late night rehearsals. Pepperdine truly did feel like a home and the friends there like a little piece of family. I learned that friendships can flourish easily when you all live so close together and that your chosen family can be crucial to the shape of your life.

HOME # 8-10 THE ANTI-HOMES: I stayed in three different apartments during my time in New York City. None of them ever really felt like home. I learned how important having a spot that felt safe and my own was for my mental health and promised I would make the next place I stayed feel more like home.

Home #11: This was the first home I lived in during grad school. It was a duplex and I lived in the top half of it with two of my classmates- we shared a kitchen and living space and then we shared a porch with another classmate who lived in the downstairs part of the duplex. WE all shared a front porch that we nicknamed “the veranda” and we spent a LOT of time out there… until it snowed all over our furniture that was actually not appropriate outdoor furniture…

I lived in the smallest room- we nicknamed it the Harry Potter closet and I volunteered for it so I could pay less rent and because I figured I’d be spending most of my time at the library or in rehearsals anyway. I did at least make it feel a bit home-like by putting up pictures, having people over for dinner, and even hosting a few guests in our living area. It was also a ton of fun to host Shakespeare play readings during our first semester and I was just so happy to have a kitchen with a dishwasher again. I was in that home even less than anticipated as during that time I fell in love with my soon to be husband and started spending almost all my free time over at his place and also we took on way more shows in a single year than was in any way reasonable. I learned that you don’t need a lot of space to find things you love about home. I learned that I was pretty ready not to have any more random roommates in my life.

Home #12: This was the first home I shared with my hubby (to be)- and also two other roommates (one other each year I lived there). We still had separate living spaces- I once again had the smallest room in the house, though it was an upgrade from the “Harry Potter closet” and it was the easiest move ever as I was going right down the street. I’m so glad I made this choice as this was the home where we got to host parties together, where I got to learn about my life partner’s quirks and we got to decide to marry each other even knowing each other’s weird quirks- you can’t hide much when you are sharing a bathroom and kitchen! This was where we got ready for our wedding, did countless DIY projects, where we started combining our lives and possessions, and where we hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner. I learned that home is made so much better when you live with the people you want to share your life. I learned that my husband will let me decorate for Christmas in October if that’s what I need for my mental health. I learned that morning coffee is the best ritual to pull our house together. And I learned it is hard to leave behind things you love in order to fit your new combined life in a cargo van and drive across the country.

Home #13: This was the home my husband and I moved into for 6 months after our cross country road trip. We were lucky enough to stay there and help get it ready for a family member to sell and it is the only home I lived in as an adult that had a pool! The home was way too big for just the two of us and there were whole rooms we didn’t even use aside from helping with painting them! Hubby and I loved evenings on the porch and night swims. We loved having a big kitchen to make meals in. We didn’t really have time to have people over those early days as newlyweds. We did a TON of theatre and commuting to and from work was really difficult as we didn’t have a car the first month and shared a car the next several months, so we were actually very rarely home as my husband was catching a bus to work most days. I learned here that a big house is a lot of work, that a pool is really fun to have but didn’t get used as much as we thought it would, and that we spent a lot of time in the kitchen and the living room! I learned that your pre-kid years make it a lot easier to be out and about the whole time and that I probably should have taken more time to stay in and rest when I had the chance before our three adorable sleep stealers came along!

Home #14: We rented this home from a good family friend and ended up living there a little longer than we originally intended after successfully adding a member to our family! There is something truly special about the house you bring your baby home to. We have wonderful memories of having friends over, converting our guest room into a nursery, and watching baby milestones unfold. I learned that the home you have will never be as special as the memories you make there. That when you have small children it would probably be nice to block off the kitchen in some way. We learned being close to a freeway is very helpful when you travel all over the place doing theatre. We learned that we wanted a big backyard and that you accumulate stuff fast once you have kids as when we moved out we felt like we had 10x the stuff we had when we moved in and we weren’t even there two years!

Home #15: This was the first home we owned. We fell in love with our cute little “hobbit house” as we called it thanks to the short ceilings and we had a totally dirt backyard when we moved in with just a line of trees in the back. We transformed the back yard, brought another two babies home to this house, and because of those additional family members we outgrew this home. I think if we stopped at two kids we might have stayed in that home for many many years. We learned that location is key. That sweat equity is incredibly fulfilling. We learned that it would be nice to have a neighborhood where we could walk on sidewalks instead of the side of the road. I learned I was a runner in that house and that I’m in love with watching the sun set behind the mountains. We learned that kids are ROUGH on houses, that we love our outside time, and that it was very important to us to find a place that fit our family around one dinner table.

“As long as you’re here, right by my side, home’s never too far away…”- Lyrics for Fellowship- the musical Parody of Lord of the Rings… and yes they have spoken to my nerdy heart since my Pepperdine days…

Home #16: We are still getting to know this home. We certainly hope this is one of the last moves we ever make! We have already learned that location is king, that having public amenities like parks or hiking trails within walking distance is a game changer, that more space means a lot more work and decisions, but also a lot more peace and fun. I learned that stairs aren’t as bad as I originally thought and that there really are places where your neighbors welcome you with cookies and cacti and other warm wishes! After moving around so much before this, I am looking forward to settling in here and making this a long term home, a stable place for our kids, a place that grows and changes with us. I’ve said most of this before so I’ll stop now, but I can’t help getting emotional thinking about our new place.

I think the millennial reality is to have a lot of moving as part of our life story. How have the homes you’ve lived in shaped you?! Were you lucky enough to move a bit less? I’d love to hear.

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