18 moves in 14 years

Several years ago, as part of a fine art photography class, I was asked by Deb Schwedhelm “What is unique or important about your past?” I wrote this and have thought about it many times since then. She encouraged me to follow this direction in my art…and I know the feelings about what I share here are a big inspiration for my choices today.

“I feel that the most shaping aspect of my childhood was being without a house. I was not ever without a roof over head, although I know we lived with Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Harry for a brief time. The ‘houselessness’ I experienced was that the four walls and roof over my head changed very frequently. Looking back, I calculated 18 moves by the time I was 14 years old. My experience fo home was very transient. In fact, I don’t think I have met anyone that has moved as many times within that time span. Street signs changed at least once a year. I never had a teacher that I looked forward to having the coming year- I didn’t know them. The school faculty didn’t know me or my siblings either. My friends were always recent. I was the ‘new kid’ every school year.”

“We didn’t own a home after my parents lost the home of my infancy. Because we moved so frequently, the possessions that most homes protect, weren’t as valued at our house. We often started over. It was easier to replace the furniture that we had at a yard sale or thrift store than move it to another state. I remember in 5th and 6th grades feeling very apprehensive to have a friend from school over- what if the couch in my living room is one the they recently discarded?”

“The move I remember most was from Phoenix, AZ to Emmett, ID. I had just finished 6th grade and was headed to junior high. My mom’s parents came to say good-bye. My grandmother Gray had never seemed terribly interested in us, a side-effect of alcoholism. I remember when she stepped out of the car she had on red lipstick. I had never seen makeup on her in my 13 years. Did she somehow know that we would never see her again? She died within the next year.”

“This ‘houselessness’ (again not homelessness) had it’s upsides. I love change! I still root for the underdog. I make friends easily. I can relate to hardship. I have experienced different communities and cultures (Phoenix, AZ is very different from rural Idaho). I also appreciate the goodness that I have today.”

“Today I am 45 years old, wife to a loving man, mother to three amazing daughters, and a homeowner. We have lived in our current home for 11 years and 6 months. We owned our previous home for 7 years before that. This week our home held bookclub for sever 12-13 year olds and their moms. We made caramel apples around the kitchen counter twice. A group of neighbors made plans for service in the neighborhood within it’s walls. This home kept us warm as the fall temperatures dropped. It holds a beautiful piano that allowed me to help Sophie learn her new flute duet piece. The sound of cello, bass and guitar reverberated through it’s walls. It holds rugs that brighten my day, couches that keep us comfortable, a bed where I sleep soundly, and office with light that inspires me to think and grow. My girls each have their own space where they can tuck away treasures, read books past their bedtimes and space for homework and writing. You won’t see photos of my house in a magazine- but I will be forever grateful for it’s steadiness in our lives.”

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