South Park Self

connecting to places we have known

I am at home today with 'flu, as I am phlegmy and disgusting and shouldn't breathe on anyone, and moreover have a head full of cement. Also, I need to hold Hobbit's hand a bit, he got beaten up by the neighbourhood tom again this morning, and is wandering around all subdued, with matted fur and covered with leaves. I think the bastard must have rolled him in a flower bed.

So, being at home, it's vaguely synchronous that Tumblr is currently doing a meme about how many houses you've lived in over your whole life. I like the mental exercise this offers, and am doing it just because. Answer, as far as I can remember: 13.

  1. I was born in Bulawayo, so the first house I lived in must have been the one on the research station up in the Matopos hills. (My dad was in agricultural research so we moved around a lot between research stations). I remember the red cement floors and the terraced garden and the view across the valley.
  2. The hardboard cottage in Harare my parents lived in briefly. I think I have a memory of this, it entails a darkish living room with rough walls inset with stone, and an arch.
  3. The first house on the research station outside Fort Victoria, which is now Masvingo. It had a huge kopjie behind the house, where we used to find glass beads in the sand, and a rather twisty, dark forest with a narrow path through it to the house next door where we went to play with a girl called Kate.
  4. The second house on the same research station, during the Rhodesian War so with security fencing around it. There was a giant mulberry tree in the back garden, we used to play under it. We had bantam chickens which were pets, and my dad's pointer had nine puppies who used to seethe around in a pen at the back. There was a "swimming pool", actually an old reservoir with no pump or filter, it used to go absolutely green and fill up with leaves and frogs.
  5. The house in suburban Harare where we lived for a year while my dad was finishing the biometrics for his PhD. It was very weird to me, being very ordinary suburban in style; we had a TV for the first time in my life, there had never been reception on any of the research stations.
  6. The house on the research station outside Marondera, with the lovely trees in the garden, and owls hooting at night. We had rabbits and tortoises, and that's where we acquired the rescued baby owls we raised to adulthood, thus starting a lifelong fixation which makes giving me presents ridiculously easy. The garden had this weird stage area at one end, a bit raised with a bamboo hedge for wings, we used to do amateur theatrical thingies with the friends from next door.
  7. The house my parents bought in Harare when my dad left research - it was the first house they'd actually owned. It was an ex farmhouse, long and rambling, and had been done up by the previous owners, who had the unfortunate shared characteristics of being DIY fiends and rather slap-dash, so it leaked and bits fell down. Huge garden, we grew popcorn and kept goats. If you stood on the front patio and looked down the garden to the fields, you could draw a line with a ruler at goat head height under which no green thing grew.
  8. I'm not counting the couple of stints in digs rooms during undergrad, variously in my aunt's house in Newlands (tense), and Tom's mad mother's garage in Bergvliet (very dirty). The first house I rented myself in postgrad was the digs in Twickenham Rd I shared with Michael, who was a roleplaying crowd friend. It was my Honours year; I was broke, breaking up with The Bastard Ex-Boyfriend From Hell, and on the whole rather broken, and I really can't blame Michael from moving out in a marked manner. The house had absolutely no furniture bar a bed, stove, desk and kitchen table, and was consequently rather good for gothy parties with lots of dancing.
  9. After a disastrous year in a flat with an anal-retentive semi-friend, the next house was the Osborne Rd digs of legend and song, variously with Michelle, Dylan and a different Mike. Those were slightly insane and very enjoyable years. Highlights included that legendary party with both gluhwein and cheese fondue, and, possibly not unrelated, ripping up the ancient and horrible carpets in favour of the lovely pine floors. We had a parade of cats who mostly expired or moved out mysteriously, including Pixie and Polonius (black siblings), the dreaded Widget, her five kittens, and finally the legendary Fish.
  10. After Dylan's mother reclaimed the house, I spent a couple of months in a different house with Michelle and Michael, who were by that point a couple; it was white and clinical and in Harfield Village.
  11. Then Mowbray, three years in an old Victorian on the railway line with Donald, who was a bit laissez faire as home owners go and declined to upgrade the security in any way. After about the fifth burglary was actually an armed robbery, I moved out. Donald is a psychologist and saw clients in the front room; it wasn't particularly compatible with my tendency to run about three different societies (roleplaying, SCA, tai chi) from the house simultaneously.
  12. The domicile of the Evil Landlord, for fifteen years. Good lord. I don't need to tell you anything about that if you've read my blog at all...
  13. My current house, which is unlike all of the above in being mine, mine, mine and never leaving. Which is a catchphrase from the Michelle/Dylan days.

    I have lived in lots of houses, she says with exemplary obviousness. Can anyone top that total? On mature reflection, while I have lived with lovely people on the whole, I really like being on my own.

    (My subject line is from the Brian Eno/David Byrne album, which offers pretty much the definite anthem on this theme unless you count Madness).
Top that, she says? HA.
I think I'd lived in 13 houses by the age of 13, so yeah, I can top that. It's really hard to remember the whole list but until 25 or so I was averaging one move per year. It still amazes me that I have slowed down finally, spending FIVE WHOLE YEARS in one place (last London house). (Shortest record? Two days. Probably shouldn't count except that I really thought I was staying, at the time. Admittedly there are a few dodgy entries in the whole list, but basically if I issued change of address notifications, I'm counting it.)
Re: Top that, she says? HA.
Yes, I thought as I pressed Post, hmmm, actually that's not much, not with the 15 years in one spot, it'll be immediately and cordially eclipsed... As it was. The latest move has reminded me how much I actually enjoy moving house, but I doubt I'd have retained the fondness with your sort of stats.
Re: Top that, she says? HA.
Funnily enough I did always enjoy it as long as I kept doing it regularly. Now it is a thing of dread and horror. (Which, fair enough, since now it entails (1) a Lot More Stuff, as I've become increasingly grown-up and encumbered, and (b) kids.)
N-n-n-n-n nineteen
My parents were not great with stability :-(. This house has been the longest I've lived anywhere, being a month shy of 8 years. Sigh.
I lived in the same house for 17 years (ages 7 through 24, although ages 19 through 24 saw several dorms/apartments at college, study abroad, and that awful year of law school—I just came back to the same house every time), and thought I'd been lucky and settled…but then I did a quick list, and came up with 22+ places, not counting temporary stays (less than 2 months).

I loathe moving, too.
One move with parents, various accommodations while a student, then here for the past thirty-plus years.

I have yet to move house in my own right - don't count the student changes of residence - and frankly, do not relish even the thought of such a prospect. Too much accumulated stuff!
Hmm, I came up with 17 or 18. The longest stay was about 12 years, we moved out of that one in my matric year. Lots of moving round as a student, and as an adult here in the US. Hoping not to have to move again for a decade or two, though there is something satisfying about the Getting Organised that's required to survive a move.

I love your specific memory details btw. Made me think of some of my own: figuring out how to tie my shoelaces under a tire swing, sniffing mimosa flowers over the neighbour's wall and getting pollen on my nose, horrible pink carpets, gradually knocking out little decorative lamps that lined the driveway (it was a long narrow one that you had to reverse out of), yellow flowers floating in a sunlit swimming pool, and finding a garter snake in the garage. It's interesting how each place has its own set of small, specific memories. I like it.