I have loved every place I have ever lived, which is a little weird because I probably really (really) shouldn’t have.
In college, weeks before the start of my junior year, I got word that my two-bedroom apartment – my first foray out of the juvenile dormitories and into supersonic (yet perceived) adulthood — had burned to the ground. Room mates scrambled to find housing and I ended up sharing a dismal studio apartment where — for an entire semester — I shared equal time on a couch or the floor. Dormitories be damned: it was awesome. For real. My friend Betsy and I bonded like sisters, mastered extremely covert one-night stands and politely replenished the communal TV Guide and pack of Parliaments that adorned the coffee table. It was bliss.
After I’d gotten married I was equally excited about my newlywed apartment and why not? I had a queen-sized mattress for the first time in my life and my beauty needs always trumped those of my newest room mate. That tiny bathroom was mine. The apartment was so small I don’t believe I even noticed that my shiny new toaster oven took up the only patch of counter space I had in the walk-in kitchen (not to be confused with the dimensions of a spacious walk-in closet. A walk-in kitchen is precisely that: once you walk in, you can’t walk out if a person has come in after you).
My first house was right out of the book (the book of course being entitled You Might Want to Keep Looking). Gaudy, garish and situated between a junk yard and a train station that — professionally enough — had been bypassed by our savvy realtor every time we visited. Didn’t matter; it was our little slice o’ heaven. We embraced the avocado green appliances and did what every other first homeowner did: filled it with cheap furniture (bought on credit, twelve months no interest), pretended to really (really) like the 80s-inspired mauve-and-sage green color scheme and painted a nursery in pastel colors. There were slugs in the basement (to this day I cannot comprehend how they were getting in), there was paneling on the walls and we were happy.
When we said farewell to our families and fled to the beauty of New England, we fell under the enchantment of the (cue in heralding angels singing) New Construction. There was no garage (not unusual in these parts), there was only one full bathroom and it was blindingly vanilla. Cheap (white) Formica, cheap (white) linoleum, cheap (kinda white) walls and we barely even noticed the poor quality of construction. It was our own little Cape Cod castle and we were thrilled. We dumped a pool into the ground, threw up some outdoor speakers, invited friends up the entire summer long and partied like rock stars. It was our fun house. The house that found TV stardom on a makeover show. “Don’t touch our tile floor,” we pleaded. But they did. And we didn’t care. Our home was brimming with laughter and babies and milestones and debt and I thought we’d stay in it forever.
Alas, life beckoned. We needed to keep paying the bills so off we went again, only this time into a whole new world. We got a true taste of luxury when life directed us to a beautiful college town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Fate found us riding the real estate wave full-throttle into a lush golf course community and ginormous brick home. We went from having no garage to three. There were hardwood floors and media rooms and bathrooms for every person old enough to wield a Lysol disinfecting wipe. There were pools and socials and Bunco and chardonnay on the deck through November and it was nice. Really nice. But somehow it didn’t feel like home. Something was missing. We jumped at the first opportunity to transfer back and were heading home within ten months; amidst all the grandeur and greenery we didn’t even last a year.
So back to New England we came. And once again I love my house. There’s no rockin’ pool and there’s no drinking wine outside after say, August, and man, oh man, we are forever with plumbing issues (because there is never going to be a septic system big enough for the things that unfathomably exit boys-to-men bodies) but I just love it. It’s a pretty house. And it’s big enough for our family of six and all of our out-of-state visitors and it’s felt like home ever since our first night on air mattresses. That we’ve been here ten years still catches my breath some days.
I’m not the first person to realize that a house with crowds of friends beats out a house with crown moldings every time. And I know I’m not the only daughter who decided that an airplane ride back to her own mother was entirely too much distance. And I certainly won’t be the last homeowner to express indigestion over an albatross of a mortgage.
But I do know that, without question, at this particular moment in my life, I am in my favorite home. Ever.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.