I was thinking the other day about the assorted houses I have lived in, and I decided I should try and make a list, mainly because I’m curious to see if I can remember every house I’ve lived in. It’s weird how some houses are associated with very strong memories for me, while I barely remember living in others. I feel like writing about these houses only scratches at the surface of all the things that happened in them, and I’m kind of surprised by how long the list is, because I don’t think of myself as very nomadic. And because growing up in Mendo, most of the kids I knew had lived in one house their whole lives. Weird.
1. The House on Low Gap Road
My very early (read: infancy) childhood was spent at the house on Low Gap Road, which actually belonged to my father’s friend, Jim. When I was born, my father was working for Hidden Cellars. He still has a bottle of wine from my birth year…it has probably decayed into a heinous state at this point. I feel like there were a number of occasions when that bottle of wine was going to be opened, but this has yet to happen.
2. The Ranch on Cameron Road
We moved to Elk shortly after I was born because my father got a job care taking a large plot of land in Elk. I’ve written about the land in Elk before. There was a lot of it, and it was covered in trees. We lived in a rambling farm house and had a large garden which the gophers delighted in. I remember once that my father held a pizza party, and one of his friends dared me to eat a piece of pizza which was covered in hot peppers. I couldn’t eat for two days, my mouth hurt so much. Ah, those were the days.
3. The Glass House on Xhios
When we lived on Xhios, we had a glass house. I only remember the details of the house vaguely, but I believe it was constructed from an assortment of windows of different shapes and sizes. My father was working for Markos and Erika, taking care of their goats. I remember one memorable slaughter season when I ate an entire kid goat on my own. I also remember one of the girl goats was named “blue horns” because she liked to butt a water casket that Markos kept obstinately painting blue, even though he knew it riled her up.
4. The House on Lesbos
The house on Lesbos was in Molybos, under the shadow of the castle. I remember our kitchen was partly underground, and always cool in hot weather. We met the walking toilet here. My father built a fairy princess house in the backyard for my German friend Anna and I. We cured olives on top of the ice box which literally had ice, and on warm summer evenings my father would play the saxophone in the backyard and I would perch on the toilet in the outhouse and listen.
5. The House on Chestnut Street
When we came back from Greece, we lived in the house on Chestnut Street, right next to the middle school. The elementary school was within walking distance, and every morning my father would walk me to school, where I had a memorable encounter with a school counselor once. Remind me to tell you that story. I remember one of my friends and I excavating a large hole in the corner of the playground, trying to dig to China. I also skinned my knee once running under the monkeybars.
Here’s where things start to get complicated, because my parents split up, doubling the houses I lived in.
6. The House Above Black Bear
When my parents broke up, my father stayed on Chestnut Street while the other one moved to Caspar, living above Black Bear Press. I did not spend very much time at that house, but I stayed there long enough to get lice and have my hair combed in the living room.
7. The Tin Palace
My father rented the Tin Palace shortly after the other one moved to Caspar, and shortly thereafter she moved again, because she apparently couldn’t handle the thought of living within a block of my father. We lived in the Tin Palace for over 10 years, up until I went to college. So many things happened to me there that it’s hard to know where to begin telling the story of the Tin Palace. I adopted Mr Bell and Mr Shadow while we lived there, had an assortment of obnoxious birds, and spent an obscene amount of time at Jughandle Beach. We also met George there, on our first day in Caspar.
8. The House on McPherson Street
The other once lived in the house on McPherson street for a couple of months after it moved from Caspar. It was right behind the rec centre, which made getting to the pool a snap, and I remember walking down the street early in the morning to the Laurel Deli, when it was in its old spot on Laurel Street, and getting pumpkin apple strudel muffins, which are quite possibly the most amazing muffins ever. As above, I didn’t spend very much time there, and didn’t miss the house too much when it moved again, to Elk.
9. The Other House on Cameron Road
I spent more time at the neighbors, because they had all sorts of farm animals to chase (and eat), along with a garden. I had most of my experiences with slaughtering assorted animals here, and I also trained a ram to pull a cart, raised a flock of chickens, and had a pony that would sneak into the house and steal things from the fridge. This was the last house I ever lived in with the other one—it has since moved a couple of times, I believe.
10. The Dorms at [Expensive East Coast College]
The girl above me used to wear high heels and pace. All night. It was maddening.
11. The House on Ocean Drive
When I returned from [Expensive East Coast College], we lived in the Tin Palace together very briefly before being forced to move because the owner claimed that he was going to be remodeling it. This never happened, and is a source of bitterness for me, because I loved that house and continue to do so to this day. It was, by far, the best house I have ever lived in. It would be really excellent to live there again someday, and preferably never move again. At any rate, my father rented a far smaller house on Ocean Drive, because it was all he could afford, and I was miserable there most of the time. Cold. Moldy. Intense. He still lives there…I don’t know how he manages.
12. The House in Oakland
When I went to [famous university], I rented a room in a house in Oakland. The house was awesome, as were all of the roommates except one, who happened to be the landlady. Right as the semester was drawing to a close, she assaulted me, forcing me to flee the house in the middle of the night with two infuriated cats and an assortment of material possessions. Good times.
13. The Alley House
When I first moved back to Fort Bragg, I rented a second story alley house which my friend T used to live in. I lived there for a couple of months, and then the upper story of the main house, on Franklin Street, became available. The Alley House was the site of the whipped cream party and the Great Curry Adventure. It was also my first real, adult, on my own house.
14. The House on Franklin Street
I lived in the purple house on Franklin Street for about four years. This is where I adopted Loki, staged sabotage missions on City Hall, and had lots of people over for cake. My landlords there were the coolest landlords ever, and I miss them intensely. I doubt that Georgia and Mott read this website, but if they do, hi guys!
15. The House on Treasure Island
Which I’m sitting in right now, while I watch roofers work next door and swelter in the heat. Looking back on this list, that’s a lot of houses and a lot of history. Woah. Maybe I should catalog “jobs I have had,” too, just for shits and giggles.