It has not escaped my attention that the extreme majority of what I have posted here lately has been silliness, song lyrics, and pictures of my pets. It's not that I'm brain dead--really!--I'm just...dulled, recently.
That being said, I have an interesting exercise. In my Family Policy class a couple of weeks ago, we were asked to list all of the families (or, if you prefer, households) we've ever lived in. Basically, just make a list of all of our living situations. The point that was being illustrated was about lack of family structure stability, but I sort of found making the list useful in and of itself--I hadn't realized how many situations I've been able to call home.
So here's my list:
1979, for a few weeks (months?) post-birth: Lived with my mother and my grandparents, at my grandparents' house
Fall 1979-Summer 1983: Lived alone in a house with my mother.
Summer 1983-Spring 1985: Lived in a house with my mother and stepfather.
Spring 1985-Summer 1997: Lived in a house with my mother, stepfather, and brother.
Fall 1997-Winter 1998:Lived in a college dorm room with a roommate, C.
Winter 1998-Spring 1998: Lived in a college dorm room alone.
Summer 1998: Lived with mother, stepfather, and brother again.
Fall 1998-Spring 1999: Lived in a college apartment with two roommates, J. and M.
Summer 1999: Lived in a duplex with three roommates, B., S., and K.
Fall 1999-Spring 2000: Lived in an apartment with my then-boyfriend, S.
Summer 2000: Lived in a college apartment with my then-boyfriend, S., and another roommate, J.
Fall 2000-Spring 2001: Lived in a single dorm room by myself.
Summer 2001: Lived in a duplex with two roommates, J. and N.
Fall 2001-Winter 2002: Lived in a duplex with two roommates, J. and N., and Mark.
Winter 2002-Summer 2002: Lived alone in an apartment.
Summer 2002-Summer 2003: Lived in an apartment with Mark, a roommate, E., and a cat, Potter.
Summer 2003-Spring 2005: Lived in a house with Mark and Chance.
Spring 2005-Summer 2005: Lived in a different house with Mark and Chance.
Summer 2005: Lived in a house with Mark and Leo.
Summer 2005-present: Lived in a house with Mark, Leo, and Atticus.
So what does this all tell me? I'm not sure, other than I haven't spent much time living alone. I've moved around a good bit. In 26 years, I've lived in three "cities" and 15 different locations, by my count. Two boyfriends and eight roommates. Two dogs and two cats, not counting my childhood pets (which I don't count because they lived outside and weren't really pets). Some of these living situations were good, some had big problems. A few had really big problems, mostly on the neighbor frontier (see Won't You Be My Neighbor?). I'm sure they all taught me something, though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what.
Actually, maybe I'm not so hard pressed. I think what they've taught me, and what looking back on them is teaching me all over again (because, you know, I can't just learn something once and be done with it), is that there are many, many ways to be home. I still miss Portland, and refer to my upcoming visit there as "going home," but in truth, Austin is home now. Specifically, Mark is home. The house we're buying together is home. My dogs--first Chance, and now Leo--are home. Atticus is rapidly becoming home. And all three stanky dorm rooms I lived in where home, as were both even stankier Reed College Apartments (TM). The studio apartment I rented by myself, so proud and my mom so scared of the "bad neighborhood", was home. And the falling-down house in the little town where I spent my incredibly painful formative years will never be anything but home.
Maybe as we get older we collect concepts of home. Maybe this helps us be more at home where we are, or at home with who we are. I hope so.