I was thinking, the other day, about all of the places Dan and I have lived since we got married almost 41 years ago. I wrote out a list and it totaled up to four states (one of them twice), six towns (one of them twice), and 15 places of abode (including five temporary ones, during transitional times).
I thought it might be fun to list each one of them and write down one memory that pops into my mind from each of our 10 homes (not counting the five short-term transitional places). Limiting it to one memory proved difficult, but I've done it. I purposely tried not to make this all about the kids, which would have been easy - births, first days of school, first broken arm, first driver's license, graduations, etc. That's what baby books and scrap books are for. This is for other kids of memories.
1. Our first apartment, on Cedar Crest, in Abilene, Texas – Summer 1969.
In this apartment, we watched Neil Armstrong take man’s first steps on the moon during the Apollo 11 Mission, in July, 1969. (We were married June 15.) We watched it on our first TV, a little black-and-white one that we bought just so we could witness this historic event.
2. Our apartment on E. N. 16th Street, in Abilene, Texas – Fall 1969 through Spring 1970.
Dan and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple in this apartment. That was the Christmas I made a bad deal. Dan had always opened Christmas presents with his family on Christmas morning. I had always opened them with my family on Christmas Eve. Dan suggested a compromise . . . we'd open them on Christmas Eve until we had kids, then we'd switch to Christmas morning. I agreed. I got "my way" for four years, and Dan has had "his way" ever since.
3. Our rental house on Avenue G, in Anson, Texas – Summer 1970 through Spring 1971.
My mom and dad came to visit for my college graduation. We were so proud to have a two-bedroom house, with a guest room for them. Up until their visit, though, the spare room had been without furniture, so we borrowed a bed from our very old landlady's storage shed. "Very old", in that sentence, modifies both - the landlady, Mrs. Orr, and the shed. And, to be honest, "very old" could also accurately modify "bed." Years later Mom confessed that she and Dad hardly slept a wink on what turned out to be a dusty, squishy, broken-down mattress and a frame with squeaky bare-coiled springs. (Sorry, Mom.)
4. Thunderbird Terrace Condominium, in Juneau, Alaska – Spring 1971 through January 1973.
Dan did a little traveling for work while we lived here. One time, when he was out of town, I heard a strange scratching noise coming from our clothes dryer. I couldn't imagine what was in there, but I quickly turned it on and off, then listened some more. No sound, and, later, when I opened it up, there was nothing inside. After Dan returned, we started smelling something, and it was NOT a good smell. It got worse and worse. To make a long story short, we ended up having to tear into a wall to get to the dryer vent, which ran between the walls, from the back to the front of the condo. Finally we found the source of the rank odor . . . a nest of field mice, all dead. I must have injured the mama, when I turned the dryer on and off; she went back to the nest and died, as did the babies. Ugh!
5. The first house we bought, on Jerry Drive, in Juneau, Alaska – January 1973 through Spring 1978.
Our house backed up to forested land, and bears frequently came on our back deck, looking for food in our garbage can (we didn't have a garage, so the can sat outside). In the beginning we thought that if we latched the lid on tightly that they wouldn't bother it, but soon learned that we were wrong. If they couldn't get the lid off, they would drag the can off and, eventually, shred it to pieces to get to the good stuff; so we began leaving the lid unlatched. That way they would tip the can over, the garbage would spill out, they'd eat their fill, and leave our can in tact. Of course, it meant picking up the garbage every morning during bear season.
[Transitional apartment: We lived for a month or two in an apartment, in Salem, until we were able to close on our house.]
6. Our house on Wyant Ave., in Salem – Spring 1978 through Summer 1984.
We lived in this house when Mt. St. Helens erupted, on May 18, 1980. The house directly behind ours was vacant at the time, and it had a second-story deck. From there we joined some neighbor friends in watching it. Even though we were well over 100 miles away, from that deck we could see the volcano's towering plume. The wind carried the bulk of the ash to the east, but we got a fair amount in Salem. There was a fine layer of ash on everything, and we were all warned to keep children inside and wear masks whenever we were outside.
7. Our house on Gemini Lane, in Newberg, Oregon – Summer 1984 through Fall 1991.
I think of these years as our "Exchange Student Years.” We hosted a number of teenage boys, some just for summer stays, and three of them for long-term. Takashi, from Japan, was the one who was most like a “son” to us. I remember staying up until all hours of almost every school night, helping him make sense out of his American history assignments. These sessions led to some great discussions and debates. Takashi still keeps in touch with us, sporadically, and not long ago sent wedding pictures so we could see his new bride.
[Transitional house: While waiting for our new house to be completed, we lived - more accurately, we camped - in an old farm house.]
8. The house on Bramble Ct., in Newberg, Oregon – Spring 1992 through Spring 1998.
This was the house we lived in during the entirety of my dad's valiant struggle with cancer, which ended in 1997.
[Transitional apartment: I stayed in an apartment after our house sold. Dan went on to Juneau to start his new job. We were four months apart.]
9. Our condo, on the Douglas side of the Gastineau Channel, in Juneau, Alaska – Spring 1998 through Fall 2002.
On September 11, 2001, Dan had just had knee surgery. As directed by his doctor, he was staying home that first week. Before I left for work, I went out to get him some coffee. As I was driving across the bridge, I turned on the radio and was stunned to hear the news coming from New York City. I dashed in and got his coffee, at Alaskan & Proud, where everyone there was watching the TV, in silence. I didn't have a cell phone back then, so I had to drive back home, with the coffee, before sharing the devastating news with Dan.
[Transitional apartment: After our condo sold, we moved into an apartment, with Tim, for about 6 months, until we left for Albuquerque.]
[Transitional apartment - again: When we got to Albuquerque, we lived in an apartment, with Tim, until our house purchase closed, only about a month.]
10. The house (our current one) on Rio Los Pinos, in Albuquerque, New Mexico – Spring 2003 to present.
It was in this house that both Dan and I turned 60 years old, and each of us hosted a surprise party for the other. Dan's was a party that he shared with our friend, Keith, who was turning 50; therefore I invited everyone to their "110th birthday party" (60 plus 50). As for mine, I'm still in shock over how Dan got Chris, Kelsey and Clara here without my pre-knowledge, and how he put together a surprise dinner party at Black Angus, with thirty or so guests.