There Are Places I Remember

When I was little, I looked down on people who moved. No, not you know, who could move, but who moved from house to house.

I suspect in that I was a little like say Regency manor families. I was born in a house where generations of my family had been born (and died) and by gum, I was going to stay there. There was pride in that, and also a little bit of insanity. I suspect it’s to blame for my keeping all sorts of weird things: Cloth I’m not sure what to do with. ALL screws and nails. I mean, something comes into my house and breaks, I remove the screws and nails, before discarding. Pieces of machinery. Bits of interestingly worked wood.

This is mostly because when I was little and wanted to do some craft or create something, the first stop was not “Let’s go get the materials” but “go rummage through the attics and outbuildings, because someone who lived here before has left something I can probably use.” And part of my idiotic back brain equates that with security. Yeah, it has to change, or we’re going to end up two old people living in a labyrinth of plastic bins and cardboard boxes. (What do I mean end up. Shut up. We’re moving. The boxes will get unpacked. Things will change.) I still want to keep a good number of things, because, look, we’re going to uncertain times, but enough is enough. So, the truly ugly curtains in this house are going for donation. I don’t want them. I’ll never use them. And if in the future I feel a strong need for ugly material (I don’t know. Maybe I’ll need to scare someone?) I’ll BUY some. Or trade for some. Or hand-draw some on unbleached muslin, d*mn it.

Anyway, ahem.

So, anyway. I really never thought I’d move out of the village, while simultaneously wanting to live in Denver and be a writer. Yes, I could have contradictory aspirations. I guess we all do.

People who moved around a lot baffled me. I lived where my ancestors had lived. They were in the air, in the water, in the produce, and oh, yeah, the cemetery down the road.

They’d known and loved this landscape like I knew and loved the landscape. There is a love, buried in my memory. This time of year — last smelled at the Denver botanic Gardens, two years ago — the smell of a certain kind of ripe grapes can bring tears to my eyes. It’s etched in my memory with a visual pallet of gold and grey. The gold of the ripe wheat fields and golden leaves. The grey of the field stone walls and the skies, that foretell winter.

Of course, I was in my late teens by the time I realized none of this was what it seemed to be. The village, slow changing though it was, when I was little, was still changing, and the village I spent my childhood in was wildly changed in physical landscape let alone social one from the one my dad loved and grew up in. And I suspect it had bugger all to do with the one grandma knew and loved.

It was like it had moved us/moved around us, till we were in a different place.

This was both freeing and dismaying, leaving me unmoored. But I remember, and still love the village of my memory, the village that no longer exists, now being crisscrossed by high ways and choked with stackaprol apartment buildings.

Some days I’d give everything I own to walk down the main street, even with the smell of uncertain sewage processing, and the noise of the radio soap operas coming from every door. And if it granted me the right to open that little side gate and go around the back and share just one more tea with grandma… Don’t tempt me. I don’t know what I’d give.

That is, of course, not what life had in store for me.

I won’t make jokes about being really from North Carolina, because that’s where I was naturalized. There’s some truth there, like there’s truth in that type of joke. Because, you know, the place left its imprint on me, and some see it. But I never fell in love with it. Partly because we lived in a blah starter home in blah suburbs. There was not much to attach to. And mostly we worked, and had friends. We didn’t do much that engaged us with the place.

Colorado was different, both because it was somehow my place of dreams, and because we were a family when we moved there. Which meant we did things as a family, from taking the kids places, to finding favorite places to eat to–

Mind you our Denver was not most people’s Denver. I’m forever highly amused when someone speaks of Denver and mentions something that’s hilariously alien to me. “Oh, yeah, x place. That was Denver.”

But we are weird and like weird things. Our love affair with Denver started on weekend “mini vacations” (the only vacations we really ever had.) We’d stay at embassy suites, because the kids could sleep on the sofa and not WITH US. And we went to the Natural History Museum (Now DMNS and really changed) and later the art museum (Sometimes. Depended on the exhibit they had) and to Lakeside, (where if a bomb fell that killed only non-native English speakers only Dan and the boys would survive.) Oh, we also went to the zoo because #1son likes elephants and #2son likes monkeys. And there was Pete’s. For a lot of my birthdays Dan and I would take lunch out and go to Pete’s kitchen. Maybe the Natural History Museum.

Later, as downtown became gentrified, we sometimes stayed in the embassy suites there. And as the boys stopped going with us, we’d go to the botanic gardens to walk, and plot and dream.

And I loved that. I loved the place, I loved the feeling. I loved the seasons.

Well…. everything is different. If not utterly spoiled by 2020, then just…. different. Like a suit of clothes that shrunk in the wash.

The Denver I loved doesn’t exist. Like the village, I can only visit in my memory.

And we moved.

And I feel like an old cat in a new house. My box is in a weird place, and what are all these smells?

It will get easier. There are things I already love. This place seems to have Fall, which Colorado saves for the places with Aspens. It’s more like you’re going along, and it’s summer and suddenly the snow storm of surprise descends.

I used to love fall, and I can discover that again.

I suspect I’ll fall in love with things and settings in this place too. I doubt it will be my final destination unless something catastrophic happens.

I used to look down on people who moved.

The author has a sense of humor.

153 thoughts on “There Are Places I Remember

  1. And I feel like an old cat in a new house. My box is in a weird place, and what are all these smells?

    See if the furry ones have any tips?

    1. Where I’m living now, I know is not my final home, a got a little piece of property, not too long ago, I want to build a house, a guest tree house, and a detached garage for a workshop and possibly a studio apartment above, if I can run a water and sewer line to it. I think my property may have a spring ( pools of standing water in a dry creek bead) but if not I want to drill a well.

      I don’t think this would be the forever home unless I eventually bought one or both of the hobby farms that back the property to increase my garden and orchard acreage (also ponds).

      Right now I don’t have enough to start anything. Although the guest tree house is probably the cheapest thing to build first. But only because it will be small.

    2. You could ask the cats. If you could understand the answers, they would be “Pee on it until it smells right.”

      So, no.

      1. *Giggle, giggle* Many, many years ago, I sang in a choir where one alto – a dowager – had Her Chair. And G-d, Vishnu, Odin, and anyone else forbid someone dare to sit on Her Chair. After watching the other woman upbraid a newcomer for accidentally sitting in Her Chair, a dowager second soprano finally leaned over to me and whispered behind her hand, in acidic tones, ‘What’s she going to do? Pee on it?” Oh Lordy, I almost hurt myself trying not to die laughing.

  2. Ah. I moved constantly, for twenty years – and before that, I had lived as a child and teenager in half a dozen different houses.
    The one place that I fell in love with, and wanted to remain in – was the little grey house in Ogden, Utah, with the cherry tree in the back yard. I wanted to stay there, make it the forever home, but it just didn’t work out that way.
    Sometimes things happen for the best.

    1. A a contract (gig) quality control consultant/engineer, we moved al over the place. My children probably moved more than service brats. My now grown children tell me that home was where we lit candles and set out challah and wine on the cloth covered table for Sabbath evening dinner. Asked if this included the several months when the dinner table was a cloth covered trunk in the middle of the living room, the reply “Especially then. It meant that no matter what happened, we were a family, and did our family rituals together come hell or high water.” Sometimes the “challah” was hamburger buns, and the “wine” was Welch’s, but by the Blessing of the Name, we were together and celebrating the Sabbath.

  3. I’ve moved (not counting college or my semester abroad) three times in my life, and I only remember the most recent two. Probably because the first time was when I was three, and the two most recent were both within the last… holy carp, when did we get to 2021?! Uh, within the last seven years.

    Lived in the same house for right about 25 years. It’s still the place I dream of when I dream that I’m “home.” I miss that house, I miss (most of) the friends that I had there, miss a few other ancillary things…. but I really don’t miss the neighborhood or even the (immediate) region, to the point where I’ve only been back twice (passing through doesn’t count) and one of those was for a funeral.

    On the one hand, where I’m at now still doesn’t feel like home, but on the other hand, I have found My People out here, and they are (for the most part) Odd. So while the weather stinks (especially in Winter) I really don’t have any plans to leave. Oh sure, I fly south for the winter (pray that I’ll be able to get back!), but as for moving away permanently… nah. Not for a while yet, at least. I’ve finally started to lay down roots, and I’ve no desire to pack all my stuff up and do it all over again.

    1. Out of college, I lived in a couple of apartments for three years, then one year in a horrible townhouse complex. OTOH, selling that got me a tolerable house in a marginal neighborhood, 8 years later, a decent house in a really nice neighborhood, where I lived for 17 years.

      When we left California, we didn’t want to move again. It’s 18 years here, and though we’d like to be closer to Flyover Falls, the market is still dominated by California ex-Pats. So, as long as we can, we’re living here. We now have really good neighbors (mostly), so I think we’re OK for the while. The people in the area isn’t going to tolerate the woke-Stasi, so that’s a plus.

  4. This song was playing through my head as I read this. I don’t have a nostalgic connection to anywhere myself–but I can still feel it through things like this

  5. I was going to criticize your syntax in a couple of places (and the present continuous form of the verb “to move” does concern me), but then I read “And if it granted me the right to open that little side gate and go around the back and share just one more tea with grandma…” and I did some math. It’s been twenty-five years since my own grandmother passed away. And I missed getting any fresh grapes this; real grapes I mean—scuppernongs.

    And that picture at the top is perfect.

    Tempus fugit.

    I hope y’all settle into your new place well.

    And happy birthday (+/-).

      1. I really didn’t notice anything except “moving” and stackaprol (stack-a-prole?) anyway; maybe because I was getting maudlin.

        And I left out at least one whole word in that short comment.

            1. I thought StackAProle was the author of a bunch of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Battletech novels.

  6. Whenever I land in Ireland I wait for the first smell of turf smoke, rare now, it’s so evocative. The Irish in America didn’t call themselves immigrants, they called themselves emigrants or exiles.

    When we moved to this house after my dragging the family all over the world for years, I swore they’d only take me out feet first. The dems might change that damn them.

        1. Could be written about Northern Portuguese. Keep in mind I’m not one of them. Once I was here, I wanted to be American and to belong.
          BUT most Portuguese from the North (The Celtic area) leave to return as soon as they can and/or send their bones “home”. (That Dan has instructions to do if I die before we buy a plot, but that’s mostly economic. The family has a plot. I don’t know how much it costs to fly a coffin, but in the US plots are extortionate. So, economics, not sentimentality.
          Last time I was in Portugal, we went to a restaurant where apparently (!) my parents are home. They asked if I was the daughter from America. And then they asked when I was “coming home” since the kids were grown.
          My mom said “Her? She never wants to come back. He’s American born and would be more likely to retire here than she would.”
          She’s not wrong. I’d add, husband is not very likely to, either.

          1. My mother wouldn’t ever go back, my father would have done it in a second. She would visit, but wouldn’t live there again. She came here as an adult after walking away before what amounted to an arranged marriage. It would have fixed a property dispute and rounded out a farm. That’s the way they did it.

            The oldest portion of my mother’s house was built in the 1680’s and the family has been on the same ground since the 13th century, the mere Irish kept burning the place down. My aunt is still there and it will go to her eldest son — not my uncle’s oldest son, which is another reason my mother wouldn’t go back War declared my mum used to say and civil war at that.

            I love the bones of the place but I’m really just a plastic paddy. I lived there from the ages of 1-5, went to university there, and spent my summers there up till I went to work but I’m really just a Brooklyn boy. My grandfather gave me a piece of land but Irish land law is a mess if you’re an absentee so it’s more a burden than not. They abolished entail but the terms of my getting it were that I not sell it so I haven’t. Don’t know what my children will do; they have no tie to the land and, unlike me, never lived there or really spent substantial time there. The south of England was where they did most of their growing up and then in NJ. In any case, holy Ireland is dead and gone, they’re just Europeans now.

            I want to be buried in the family plot in old Kilmurray churchyard, there’s room for me there, but I suspect they’ll bury me here. The wife will decide since I want to go down with her and If they don’t bury me for love, they’ll bury me for stink. I’ll be beyond caring either way.

            I.buried my parents in NYC. That’s what my mother wanted and my father wanted to be with my mother so there they are.

            The biggest lie the real estate agents uttered was calling houses, homes. A house is a place. Home, at least to me, is a few people, maybe just one. Home could be a paper box. Horribly sentimental yes, but that’s how I see it.

            1. Holy cow. I was going to admonish you not to reveal private stuff on Teh Internets, but apparently that town name is like Smith and Smyth. There’s one in most of the counties, in all the spellings.

            2. No. Keeping in mind I view the Vax as soul-endangering at best, if they force Dan to have it, I’ll have it too. For where he is, there is paradise. (Something brought home harshly by our month in separate states. Dying would be easier.)

              1. I know two people who finally admitted to bad reactions from the shot after hiding it for several months. It’s not just the symptoms, but the whole un-natural feeling of what their body is struggling against.

          2. And the last time I knew (the nineties) you had to buy them in pairs; or maybe that was that one cemetery since I don’t remember that subject coming up when my bachelor uncle that lived with us passed away who was interred in a different cemetery than my parents.

            1. We don’t have to worry about that. The only restriction we have (the plots are free) is where within the .8 acre cemetery we want to be buried (a long time before not enough room). Probably above or below my parents common plot. Dad choose to be away from where his parents are buried (yards) within the same graveyard, because nieces were buried next to grandma. He wanted to leave room for his siblings and their wives to be near their children. Problem is, if anyone other than family want to pay respects, after interment, they can’t. The graveyard is surrounded by a private ranch, closed off by an electric gate. Only extended family has legal right to access, except for funerals. Graveyard established 1845, or slightly afterwards. We do, or our estate does, have to pay for internment costs, digging, lining, etc., which I presume is included in the cost of most public graveyard plots purchased. If we aren’t cremated (then rules change).

              1. Friend’s ranch surrounds a little settlers cemetery like that. 18 headstones (in remarkably good shape). Earliest born, 1800; last buried 1932, but most were resident by 1890. Far as I know no one has been out to visit in 40-some years, other than someone taking pics for Find-A-Grave.

                1. Until 30 or so years ago the plot was in a family member’s name. Essentially passed from elderly person to another. That ended when dad’s older sister got involved. Used to dealing with land issues (they were contractors in the state and developed many neighborhoods), she went to work to get appropriate grants, signatures, etc., to get it into a non-profit designation with family as officers. Could prove continuous use, for internment, from start, and continuous maintenance by extended family (*Annual Family Graveyard Cleanup, Potluck, and Meeting – Saturday the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, rain or shine,). What the non-profit does is make informal arrangements formal, and legally binding. Including right of way access, no matter who owns the surrounding property and road access.

                  The road access from the highway has been gated now for the last 5 years. Not only is my dad interned there with his two nieces, but brother, mother, father, two uncles and their wives, this is just the more recent internment (latest one a remote cousin was 2016). Note, the Aunt above chose to be interned with her husband at the veterans cemetery in the community where they built all those neighborhoods. The only maintenance change made over the years is the association now pays a annual stipend to the relative (who is local and has a yard maintenance business) who keeps the grass under control through out the year so the annual maintenance doesn’t find the group neck deep in grass and “volunteers”. Other changes are implemented based on need from the funds gotten from Oregon Historical Annual Grants VS “pass the hat” and plea funding.

                  * I grew up with this. What? Doesn’t everyone have private family cemeteries?

          3. They asked if I was the daughter from America. And then they asked when I was “coming home” since the kids were grown.
            My mom said “Her? She never wants to come back. He’s American born and would be more likely to retire here than she would.”

            Only good reason to leave America is to go to New America.

            Frequently referred to as the “Final Frontier”.

            1. If Sarah had managed to move to New Texas without sharing how to get on that immigration ship, I would be upset.

    1. I went camping this last weekend (in the bomb cyclone, oh joy) and realized that as people were having PERMITTED campfires on Friday nights that it just doesn’t seem like camping without the smell of a campfire.

      It’s been literal years since I’ve encountered that smell, and there’s been a lot of camping in that time period.

  7. Time keeps on ticking and we can never return to the past. But we can rebuild or recreate the parts we value. A non-dystopian future with open horizons would be a great start,

  8. If it helps any, Sarah, it’s all still there, as is my native South Boston, before the Yuppies moved in, and my old Fort Davis, in Panama, and 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry, which is where I was happiest in my life.

    Why? You know this, already, I am sure, but to recap: God exists out of time. He looks down upon us in 4D just as we look at a map in 2D. Time means nothing to Him. God is also the one essential force, necessary to the existence of the Universe or universes. You village, my home town, my beloved fort and 4/10 Infantry still exist, unchanged, as far as he can and would see.

    And we get to join Him someday, when it is all real again to us, too.

    1. Tom Kratman said
      “And we get to join Him someday, when it is all real again to us, too.”
      Preach it Brother, Amen and Amen!
      I’ve read that line 1/2 dozen times between now and last night and every time I do I get a bit of a catch in my throat and it becomes dusty somehow. All sorts of things to look forward to when He makes time permanently irrelevant.

      Jasini with the quote from the Last Battle reminds me of the Dwarfs sitting in the dark not wanting to give up their view of the world not wanting to come out of the barn and join the run with Aslan. There seem to be a whole lot of that flavor of Dwarf around these days, almost makes me sorry for them…

  9. I moved a lot as a kid. I’m not a social butterfly and it got harder and harder every time to make friends. After a while I gave it up.

    Married my high school sweetheart though who had never lived anywhere else and we have stayed in the same town 43 years. 32 in the same house even. I hope I never have to move again but my MS could get bad enough I won’t be able to do stairs so we’ll see.

    Luckily we are in a small forest village in as safe a state as any to weather the coming unpleasantness. I hope so anyway as I’d hate to leave the gardens I’ve worked on for 30 years and all the memories of raising our family.

  10. Oh the power of the scents. I too long for that place I spent the majority of my youth. I get thrown back mostly by the heady scents I associate with growing up, the sage in Chaparral in the foothill above my hometown, the dry dusty grass smell of late summer pastures, eucalyptus on a warm fall evening, the kelp on the beach rotting at low tide. Catch one of those scents unexpected and I hear the siren song beckoning to founder on the shoals of old memories.

    The town I grew up in had changed to the point I no longer recognized it within five years of beginning hitch in the canoe club, or maybe it was I that changed. Either way I cannot go back, yet I long for those days, the friends and the places that are no more.

    I keep hoping this is the forever home where I can sink roots, yet nothing quite fits correctly like a suit custom made for my older brother. Maybe that is why the longest place I have lived is the house in Washington my wife and oldest two lived in for the last two tours before retirement. Maybe it is just searching for that “gate” that will open to re-unite me with the absent companions that have departed before me….

    1. With me it’s music; the right song and – whammo! – for that moment I am back in Panama, or Louisiana, or Boston…

      1. Oh, music has much the same affect as well, but since the scents that can rock me back to another time seem to be fewer the affect is much stronger.

        1. Yes, indeed – one of the early readers of “To Truckee’s Trail” noted how very often I mentioned the smell of things. Supposedly, it is the most accurate and long-lasting of the senses.
          To me, one of the evocative things that brings back the part of California when I was a teenager was the smell of the chaparral just after a heavy rain – slightly crushed sage, damp dust … all of it

          1. Unfortunately I’m dapt. A condition rare enough that I had to make up a word for it, the equivalent of hard of hearing but for smell. I figure deaf, dumb, and dapt. Not completely gone, just one of my duller senses, so I rarely include smells in my writing.

              1. Yes, but that’s Greek to me. I prefer a less-clinical, good old Anglo-Saxon sounding word. Thanks for the clinical term though.

          2. There’s a couple of smells that bring back memories from over 60 years ago. Hmm, I just flashed on the smell of Vernor’s Ginger Ale. Grew up on that stuff in the Detroit ‘burbs, and the San Jose Safeway had a 6 pack about 30 years ago. (It was aged in oak, and might still be. Unique taste and smell.)

          3. Smells are the best thing. (My weird thing is I often wonder how my characters smell, to the point where one of my readers said, ‘okay, we get it, this person smells like tart citrus because of their hair rinse, you can stop mentioning it every book.’) >.>

        2. I remember the smell of night time in the Adirondack woods coming through the window. The lingering smell of propane from when we lit the lantern and the stove. Those mixed with the smell of frying bacon, onions, and chicken livers in the pan. And the smell of bug spray to keep the no-see-ums away.

          And after dinner, the scent of dish soap from cleaning up. And apple pipe tobacco as my father enjoyed his pipe and glass of whiskey while my brother and I sipped hot cocoa sitting around the table and listening as the evening rain began pattering on the tin roof of the trailer.

          Those are good memories. Ones I’ll need to remind my brother of, and to tell his new bride. Perhaps I’ll incorporate them into a toast to them both at their wedding.

    2. I never noticed that I had missed it in Denver, but I walked out the door the other day and got smacked upside the head (nose?) with “it smells like duck hunting season.” I hadn’t even realized that association existed. I would have made applesauce (Mom always made it for the hunters – served still-hot), but the food mill is still in an unknown box, somewhere.

      1. I’m not great on smells, probably because I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood with major sinus issues. But there is a definite smell that says “It’s going to snow”. I’m not fond of the cold, but I love that smell.

        1. There is a definite “it’s going to rain” smell too.

          The first time I stepped into the elevator in the Hill library at NCSU oh, maybe around 1998 or so (had to go where the paper was!), the smell of “university elevator” smacked me right in the nose. Same as the elevator smell in the Kinard Hall physics building at Clemson a decade earlier. Took me right back, and I almost forgot to get off at my floor, I was so engrossed in savoring the memories.

    3. The smell of dust and sagebrush.. Pines, junipers, cottonwoods, and aspens in the thin mountain air. Petrichor and that indescribable, unnamed smell that comes from the flash floods during the desert monsoons.

  11. I can remember things about San Francisco and the East Bay…that isn’t there anymore. Places that are gone. Places that human jackals have destroyed. Friends that have left. Friends that I don’t have anymore. People that were never my friends, just…people I was with.

    I miss them all. I just hope to be able to find new things.

      1. I remember watching one place near Market St get renovated into…some weird fusion food place, and they had pulled off the first layer of cladding to reveal that it used to be a hat shop, then they took that off…

  12. What I have is the sad realization that it is not the place that I miss – it is the time. Which, even if the place has somehow been frozen (which my home town largely is) – I cannot ever return to.

    I grew up in an old wood house in the Arizona mountains – completely uninsulated, drafty as all get out, mostly cheap linoleum floors except in the entirely unfinished living room (where I learned quite early to “pick my feet up” or have terrible splinters). The “view” out of the front door was mostly taken up by the tailing dumps for the copper mines. When I was very young, the EPA did not exist – and the only scent of many days was of sulfur smoke from those mines.

    I still miss it, 40+ years later.

  13. I’m coming from a different place. We just got back to the house after six months on the road. Since I cleaned out the fridge before we left it didn’t need much work and the cabinets are decent. The stove top molded a bit, despite my lavishing Lysol on it before we left, so I get to bleach it again and wipe down the counter tops so we can bring in the canned goods and other supplies. And as soon as Vir Roomba (that black, moonfaced assassin of joy) recharges we’ll get him restarted on vacuuming.

    And I am low. Just low. It’s not the unloading and cleaning, it’s settling back down for six months. And not knowing if I have a job for tax season. (Office politics and I am not the bubbly, outgoing type which makes putting me on reception, um, interesting). Plus all the other stuff out in the “real,” world.

    OTOH, as my beloved points out, in a week we’ll be settled in. And Himself willing, we’ll be gone again next year. (But NOT to the Northeast unless something really strange happens. Oh, my, no).

    1. You know, “bubbly and outgoing” are only part of receptionist work. A lot of people are grateful to meet somebody who knows, “Yes, we can do X, and this is how you do it.” Nothing against bubbly and outgoing; but we live in a time where competent and knowledgeable people are rarer than they should be. So maybe your company is putting its competent face (you) out to the world.

      1. Also, it is really really good for the receptionist to know, “Oh, yeah, you need to talk to A, because he specializes in B.” Or at least to know what department that people want.

      2. Ive been dealing with that myself with a project on the house, lack of basic business skills. No calls, no shows for agreed upon meetings. On those rare occasions when they called me, no identification beyond their first name. As in “Hi, this is Alex” without stating their company name. Got personally insulted when I disputed a credit card charge after three weeks without seeing or hearing from them, but it was amazing how I got someone at the house three hours after I sent them a text stating I had disputed it. Guys in their 20’s running the show.

      3. I don;t care about “bubbly and outgoing.” As long as not (unreasonably) snarling[1], and *COMPETENT* I see GOLD.

        [1] Dealing with people. It’s gonna happen. Unless you are some version of insane.

  14. This makes my heart ache. The mountains are what does it for me–not just smells of pine and huckleberry, or the sound of the wind in the trees or the rivers roaring.
    When I go to the part of the Cascades where I spend most of my time there is a point where I feel, literally, as if the arms of Heaven are opened wide, saying “Daughter, there you are!”

  15. Thanks for the Beatles reference. One of my favorites. I live in a city whose motto used to be “A City in Motion”. The place where I spent my formative years literally is no more, not just the house, but the whole landscape. I tend to write a lot about that theme. One of my early stories is called “A Hearth for Ulysses,” and deals with that concept. How do you go home when home is everywhere and simultaneously nowhere?

  16. For me it was the trees. Two trees. One, I’m not sure what it was, just that it was one of those three that had smooth bark and loved to send up bunched of trunks instead of just one big one.

    On sleepy afternoons, I could climb it and just sit in the branches watching the world go by for hours. It had one branch that split into three at just the right height and KitKat the right spread to be the perfect tree chair. Can’t even remember a time I fell out of it, either.

    The other was a mulberry tree. I can still remember how good fresh mulberries in fall were every year.

  17. Loudoun County, VA was a good place for me for 25 years, but toward the end (around late 1990’s) I could sense a big change taking it over. If you follow news about the current school board nightmares, you’ll know about the fiasco of Loudoun County these days.
    Fortunately, I was able to hitch further south to GA as I found a decent job with a company that was headed there. Fast forward another several years and it was time to leave the slowly deteriorating scene of the Atlanta suburbs.
    Crossing my fingers about the future of FL.
    But hey, Loudoun county WAS nice.

    “…all my life though some have changed
    some forever not for better…”

    1. And 50 miles from those suburbs isn’t great either. Hope FL’s future is brighter than ours up here!

      1. Burning Federal thugs in a big bonfire could keep Virginia’s future bright for years!

  18. Sarah, I was curious. Did you move east or west from Denver? Just wondering. Our move from California to Eastern Kansas has been interesting. Getting to experience seasons. And fireflies.

    1. I think that because of altitude issues, she’d have had to move east. You can’t get low altitude short of the coast states if you go west, and that was definitely Not Going to Do for her.

          1. I still have my bet down on you and Dan living in a giant double-decker articulated bus that has been converted into an RV, cruising between free states and staying in spots with good internet.

            Or at least that’s my guess that’s least likely to give anybody any potentially useful idea of your location. 🙂

              1. Double decker articulated buses are extremely rare in North America, but I did see a YouTube video about one. A large family bought one from a defunct tour company fairly cheap and converted it into an RV complete with multiple bedrooms, large bathroom, etc. Converting something a bit more modest is more practical and reasonably priced.

    2. My kids are UTTERLY DELIGHTED by the fireflies.

      ….I MAY have scared my husband half to death a few days after we moved in, because I didn’t know they were in our area, I’d only seen them down across the river from Kansas City, and in July. So I saw “a light” out back, went on strong defense mode…and then squealed like a kid.
      (Iowa, took a long way around. 😀 )

      1. The only “bug” I truly love! There was one very strange summer that we had them in our back yard, and the kids went absolutely nuts over them. (This is in Tucson – where fireflies are rarer than snow.)

        1. Walking sticks, preying mantis, crickets, there are many that are worthwhile if you think about it.

      2. We used to have fireflies here. Haven’t had any for twenty-odd years now. I suspect the mosquito spray killed them off.

      3. Lightning bugs! Nothing like grabbing an empty Jif or Peter Pan jar, punching some holes in the lid, stuffing a couple of leaves in there for greenery, and catching lightning bugs. Looking at the little glowing bodies up close. Then turning them back loose before going in for the night.

  19. Cloth I’m not sure what to do with. ALL screws and nails. I mean, something comes into my house and breaks, I remove the screws and nails, before discarding.

    ::blushes, looks around for hidden camera, moves salvaged-from-dead-computer parts as well::

    1. Husband routinely saves leftover screws, bolts, ect. from projects. They come in handy fairly often.

      1. One of the surplus shops in San Jose had a big bin of stainless screws. I bought 10-20 pounds worth and sorted them out. 25 years later, I’m running low on some sizes, but I usually can find something that will work.

    2. Shoot, when I was young, between not having much money and not having ANY electronic parts stores (nearest Radio Shack was a 35 mile drive we didn’t make without a dang good reason, and merely going to RS was not deemed sufficient), I salvaged every darn component I could. In the early days, I even used to de-solder leaded resistors and capacitors from scrapped portable AM radios…saved every screw, nut, washer…along with all the scraps my dad was already saving. I’m remembering the vertically mounted ones, with one side/wire longer than the other. Hey, if it had been soldered to a PCB, it had enough exposed metal wire nub that I could solder ANOTHER wire to it and use it…

      I’ve mostly gotten over that now. And surface mount parts played a large part. Just STORING stuff like that is a PITA, which goes even more to driving the whole JIT house of cards. I do have a lot of SMT in my “junk box,” but it’s aggravating.

      1. There was a time when someone at a hamfest had a *reel* of 10K resistors for fairly cheap. At the time, buying it made perfect sense. I might have most of that reel left, but… well, I have such.

        1. I can see that. Pull-ups for everyone! Heh. When I was 15 or so (~1979), a local friend gave me most of a reel of 30 gauge, silver plated, blue kynar insulated wirewrap wire. It had gotten tangled on the machine, and they pulled it and tossed it (so of course he snagged it – he was from Hungary, and didn’t just throw stuff out). Back then, I built stuff mostly point-to-point on perfboard, but did wirewrap for IC-dense things. Despite all the uses I’ve put 30 gauge wire to over the years, including the secondary on my first Tesla coil and generosity to fellow hams, I still have MOST of that reel…

          When I retire, I’m probably doomed to wander the hamfests in an old trench coat and fedora, whispering in a hoarse voice to passersby, “Psst…hey bud…need some 30 gauge wire? Any color you want, long as it’s blue…”

  20. My brother recently moved to the big island of Hawaii, with his rich wife. (It helps) I asked him: “Are you sure you want to live on a volcano surrounded by 3000 miles of ocean in all directions?”
    Of course he was all in on that. -He’s also all-in on the Woke cult- There aren’t enough Rupees in all of Hyrule to get me to live on a Volcano…
    La Palma anyone?

    1. Well Mauna Loa is a shield volcano not a stratovolcano like Vesuvius, so basically all you have to do is walk to get out of the way of an eruption. Of course if you built your house in the path of the flow, good luck with that unless you’re Tommy Lee Jones. The Big Island is one of the few places on Earth where, to contradict Mark Twain, they’re making more land.

    2. Well, if the opportunity throw certain politicians into the volcano as sacrifices arose, I wouldn’t say no.

        1. I dunno, there’s something to be said for watching them flop and flounder on the surface. Certain elements should imbue the flames with interesting colors, too.

          1. How far do you think a humanoid creature could run on lava before its feet disintegrated? (Just researching a plot point for a work in progress…why do you ask?)

  21. I’ve only been in Denver thrice, professional conferences, but I’ve a lot of fond memories of the area.

    One of my memories; I was alone in an exhibit hall in the Denver Art Museum. viewing John DeAndrea’s Linda, in 1984. Linda’s an extremely realistic life body cast, slightly draped.

    Two youngsters, around 7 or 8 came barreling into the hall, running and shouting as such will do. They saw Linda prone on the long white block and quietly, almost tip toed over beside me. After about thirty seconds one of the looked up at me and whispered; “Is she sleeping?”

  22. From Al Stewart’s song “On the Border”:
    In the village where I grew up
    Nothing seems the same
    But you never see the change from day to day.
    No one notices the customs slip away …

    I was an Air Force brat, so we moved often. I was born in the high desert of California, at Edwards AFB. We left there when I was about 5 years old, and I never settled down to a place that was “home”. I did notice, though, several decades later, that driving from San Antonio, Texas, to El Paso, that when we got into the true west Texas desert that it suddenly felt like “home”. Even as a young’un, that desert landscape imprinted itself on me as the place I was from.

  23. You’ve had quite a journey for sure, and have fonder memories of your homes than I do… I’ve lived in the same place for all but six or so years of my life, in three different houses in that place (the first I barely remember, the second and current ones I do). Not that there’s not a few fond memories and some weirdness seeing how much has changed in town (We have a Texas Roadhouse, Chipotle, Kohl’s and Old Navy now?) of course. Never really had a dream place that stuck with me the way the old Denver did for you, either, though I’ve never wanted to stay here – or in GA at all, really. Not that getting out is going to be easy even with a great landing spot to shoot for and I can tell some of my family has that mindset you described about getting a little too rooted to one spot, too. Hopefully the new place will feel like home for you and the kitties soon!

  24. I was born in OH, we moved to NY, to CA, to VA, and back to CA by the time I was 8. We moved every three years and that became so ingrained in me that I was ready to move at each three year mark. So much so that at the end of my jr year of high school I was figuring out which friend I could live with so that I’d have my senior year with all my friends. My parents did end up leaving San Diego for San Francisco when I was in college. I moved up and down California a couple of times. Then after grad school we moved three times in four years finally winding up here in Philly. I’ve lived in this apartment for 18 years. That’s longer than I’ve lived in any house in my entire life. We’re moving to Texas in a month…

    I really miss the smell of the ocean and that will send me right back to growing up in La Jolla. Like Sarah, the village (and it really was back then) I grew up in is long gone. I will never be able to live there again, but it will always be with me.

  25. A few days ago, I found myself talking to a woman who had lived all her life in the area my wife and I live in now. The woman’s parents grew up here, too. She even told me where her great-grandmother’s house once stood, although I was only vaguely familiar with the location. I wonder how many like that woman are still here. My area, like most of Northern Virginia, is filled with transients. We’ve lived here for more than two decades, possibly making us deeper-rooted than most in the county.

    But in no way to I call this place home.

    I grew up in an Ohio suburb which sprouted south of I-70 in the 1950s. My parents moved in from South Dakota in 1961. Their three boys arrived in 1962, 1965, and 1970 (I was the one in the middle). Outside of college in Indiana, I never really lived anywhere else until my active duty orders came through, and I spent the next ten years overseas with the Air Force. I haven’t planted roots anywhere since.

    I don’t think my kids did, either, though only time will tell, I guess. But I envy my little brother, the only one of us not to leave. He married his high school girlfriend, and after three kids and thirty years, they’re still at it, looking after our parents, and active in the community. When I come back to visit, I marvel at how the town has changed, and my little brother beams with pride. But I wonder if it’s the same town I grew up in, and would I feel the same if I returned permanently.

    1. I just learned yesterday my maternal great-grandparents went to Montana from Iowa with 4 children and one on the way (grandpa). Grandma and Grandpa moved from Montana to Colorado to spend WWII, then finally to Drain, Oregon. They lived there for 56 years, in the same house.

      My paternal side however, has been in the Drain/Yoncolla/Scott Valley/Hayhurst Valley/Curtin since 1843-ish. Still have extended family scattered there.

      Mom and dad built the house in ’63, that mom still lives in.

      We’ve been in our home now for 33 years November. We’re one mile from mom. But Eugene can’t be considered small town. It isn’t Portland, let alone Chicago, etc., but small town it isn’t.

  26. I had never really thought of all the times I’d moved in my life until this article. It’s 14, I think. We’ve been in our house now for 24 years, but home in my heart is a farm in Lohman Missouri. I’ve thought about buying it for many years, but could never go back. Too many memories.

  27. Part of me doesn’t particularly “get” rootedness. My family in the male line has moved further and further West approximately every other generation, until my dad ended up in Alaska with nowhere further west to go, and I moved to Washington after college and dropping out of law school in Portland. Even my mother’s family, New Englanders for centuries, picked up and moved to California in the ’50s before my mother pulled a geographic after her first divorce and took a jaunt to Alaska where she met my dad. So I think it’s partly genetic, and also very American.

    And then growing up in Anchorage, my dad never wanted to have to maintain a house, so we rented, and ended up moving as houses got sold out from under us three times before I was in junior high.

    I carry around a lot of nostalgia for the Anchorage where I was born and grew up, although having been back a few times in the last several years I can say that most of that is colored by a child’s/teenager’s perceptions. The Big Bright City that I remember is actually small and rather shabby, and enough buildings have been replaced downtown and enough new neighborhoods have been built out along the edges that I feel like a tourist there now. (Friends here in Seattle complain about all the homebuilding sprawling out from the city of their childhood, and I’m like “so?” because Anchorage tripled in population during age 5-15 and that just seems natural.) The nostalgia is for “I played in that park when I was 4” and “my mother and I would walk to the Rexall downtown and she would buy me a milkshake” and “my friends and I would ride this bike trail when we were 10” and “the family would drive this highway to go for picnics and I remember when it was only two lanes that went through the little towns on the way instead of around them”.

    I don’t know if it’s a quirk of my brain — I’ve described this to people and nobody yet has said “oh I have that too” — but I have Dream versions of all the towns I’ve lived in: Anchorage, Williamstown MA, Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle. They’re like Dali versions of the real places: distorted, not to scale, and weird in the Weird Tales sense, but they’re all very consistent and any time I find myself there in a dream I know where I am and how to get to the other parts. Maybe that’s how I process the memories of places.

  28. Sometimes I miss the childhood vacation spot in the Beartooth mountains. The cabins are at 8,000 feet and I used to be able to drink right out of the stream. It’s changed now and sometimes love of a place is a product of time and place.
    I do miss my long home though sometimes. But He hasn’t called me so I won’t go.

  29. As soon as I graduated high school, my nomadic life began. The longest I’ve stayed in one location, so far, since high school is 4 1/2 years. And due to that 4 1/2 years which recently ended, I can now say that I can no longer count more apartments/moves than years since I graduated high school (and there are a lot of years).

  30. My folks build their house in 1965; I spent the first year of my life in a three-room clapboard shack across the road. I was phoning in a change to my dad’s phone plan a couple of years ago, and the person on the other end was running through the updates, in that semi-bored tone folks get when they are repeating sentences and paragraphs for the umpteenth time, when the tone suddenly changed: “…and the new rate will be blah blah. And Centurylink wants to thank you for being a customer for HOLY CRAP YOU’VE HAD THIS PHONE NUMBER FOR FIFTY YEARS!!! THANK YOU FOR BEING A LOYAL CUSTOMER!!!” Longer than he had been alive, I’m sure 🙂 I still slip up and refer to my childhood home as “home” even though I’ve been gone for 33 years…

    1. Mom is looking to give up her phone number, in two years, that they’ve had since moving to Eugene, in 1960. Tried to talk her into transferring it to a cell phone when dad died and she went on sister’s cell plan, but she wouldn’t do it. Even now, told her to give up the cell number and transfer her home number to the cell … sigh (too many things tied to the cell … I told her I’d help change them …)

      1. We just did that. Been in this house 20+ years, dropped our landline, and moved the number to a cell phone. Saved $$, kept the number, and reduced spam calls 🙂

        1. We dropped the house number we’d had for 20 years-ish, kept our cell numbers. By then we’d had our cell numbers for about 15 years-ish. Tipping point on cell numbers VS not was hubby and my cell numbers are one apart (one ends in 26, the other 27). What we should have done is dropped landline and switched that number when we got the cell for the kid as he was entering HS. But everything is “tied to that number” … um, dropped now for almost 10 years, and stuff (not everything I have been slowly swapping things over, as in “verify your number”, oops still attached to house landline) is still attached to the old landline.

  31. Interesting about the aspens. I did my Ph.D. in Boulder (don’t think I could do that nowadays). I remember being up mountain biking with some CU friends, and the natives were gushing about how glad they were I got to see the beautiful aspens (and they were nice, granted). I looked at them blankly and said, “It’s green and yellow. There’s no brown, red, orange… I’m from SC, and we have fall COLORS.” If they didn’t have some planted maples etc on campus, I’d probably have gone nuts since fall is my favorite season, with all the farming/seasonal activity.

    1. It’s a temperature thing. We didn’t have anything but yellows growing up in Anchorage, although I see from recent photos that it’s gotten a bit warmer and starting to get oranges.

      1. CU-Boulder had a few maples and such on campus; those were always good for fall color. If you were on campus, it wasn’t so bad for fall. Getting away from town and into the mountains, though…none of that. Those trees just don’t show up on their own at those altitudes.

  32. I grew up in a small house so close to the sea you could have fished from the front door with a casting reel, converted from two old cottages, and still a small house, but with a large garden. We thought of houses on housing estates as unbearably bland – but we also had to scrape ice from the inside of our windows on winter mornings, and I was brought up to move elsewhere because that house was in N.Ireland during the troubles. Now I have a bland house in a housing estate in a pleasant but unremarkable English inland market town. It is perfectly practical, and in many ways preferrable, and I have now lived here longer than anywhere else, but the house of my dreams is still the house I grew up in.

    1. I know … the house of my dreams was my maternal grandparents, a tiny 1920s cottage on a deep lot, with a huge oak tree (now alas, gone) and a big avocado tree in front, and a view of the mountains. I loved that house. I could still draw a ground plan of it, and place all the fruit trees and my grandfather’s tiny formal rose garden at the front of the lot. I dream of that house, constantly.

      1. I know. My great-uncle’s place, 80 acres portion of original homestead, with the house. House was interesting. Only two bedrooms with one bathroom, complete with claw foot tub. Heated by a central fire place but a huge wood burning furnace in the huge basement. Us kids used to stand over the wood grill grate, about 4’x4′. Kitchen, not super huge. When sold it still had both a wood cook stove and an newer electric stove. They still had the original crank oak phone (was removed). Half the house structure, under the same house roof, was the farmers/ranchers potting shed, and butchering. Place sold in ’74 for $80k, when I was a senor in HS. It was offered to one of dad’s younger brothers who was ranching, but the property was “too small”. Now? I can’t even guess.

  33. This song pretty much encapsulates what everyone here is talking about.

    I can truthfully state that if I ever go back to Dublin myself, I’ll not recognize most of it. I’ve done a walk using google street view, and the walk from Trinity to Christ Church bore next to no resemblance to the one I used to make practically daily. Christ Church down to St. Pats is as bad. And walking from my place in Rathmines into town and virtually nothing is the same, and it’s been less than 40 years. So this song hits harder than many might.

    This is the absolute best version ever recorded of this song, and sadly the album it’s on seems to be the only one of all Danny Doyle’s that isn’t available anymore.

  34. I have to go back 5 generations, in all family branches, to find someone who died in the same state- or country or province. Another generation for 50 miles from where they were born.

    There are people with my mother’s surname living on the property owned by my 6G grandfather in Virginia.

    Individual financial and educational and career success and longevity in the tree seems to be wholly independent of how many generations have sat in one place. It is influenced by- age at first birth for the mother (seriously), whether mom and dad stay married- if they got married to begin with, amount of inbreeding (I also have to go back 6 generations for a traceable cousin marriage- of anyone close. One of my sons married my 10th cousin 3X removed, which if I did it correctly makes her his 11th 2X removed…) Drug use and overdose death, fratricide (one example), criminal history, all occur in the most inbred lines with the least stable marriages.

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