Places I have lived
I was born in Anchorage, Alaska and the first home I can remember was a basement apartment in the Mountainview neighborhood. I lived there until age 5 and my memories of the place are few, mostly hazy snapshots of time. I vaguely recall the girls who lived next door and a couple of mean kids on the block. I even have a vague memory of a fondness for one of the neighborhood girls despite my young age. The neighborhood was a little rough, but not a bad place. I recall my mother had painted a small nook for me near my bedroom though I don’t recall what it was decorated with.
When my parents divorced, my mother and I went to Seattle, Washington. I’m not certain of the first home we lived in there, but before very long we’d moved into an older house in Tukwila, south of Seattle propper. It was an older house built back in an old apple orchard. The overall area was making a slow conversion from farmland to light industrial and residential. The house was fairly large in my memory but old. Rats were a problem there due to the apples, but an ample supply of cats kept them at bay.
From around age 6 to 12 or so, I would spend the school year in Washington and my summers in Alaska with my father. The exact timeline is pretty hazy for me. I recall that from grades 1 – 6 I was in a different school every year though it seems to me we spent more than a year at the Tukwila house. It was there I met my friend Dean, who I keep in contact with to this day. Back then he was called Hawkeye. We roamed our patch of Tukwila together getting up to a number of memorable adventures and interacting with a gaggle of other kids. My memories of the place are fond ones even though it was a time in my life when I had a lot of fears.
I also recall I lived with my mother in a house that was something of a commune with the residents sharing meals and minding kids. I don’t think we were there for long and I don’t recall if it was before or after Tukwila, I think it was prior to that. Back in Alaska, when my father remarried he and my stepmother moved out of the mountain view apartment and into a condominium. It was there I met my stepmother and some of her family for the first time. It was much more modern than any place I had lived in before and I remember marveling at how clean it seemed and how white the walls were. I only spent one summer that I can recall there, though it might have been more. A great windstorm eventually damaged it and the surrounding condominiums very badly.
In fifth grade, my mother had moved into a house in Marysville, a lovely mid-sized town well north of Seattle. I recall a pretty happy year playing with the kids there in what was a nice middle-class neighborhood. I also roamed around the town subsisting on McDonald’s contest coupons for free food, spending my quarters at the video arcades that were becoming popular. This was also the last year I spent the school year in Washington. Starting in sixth grade I would live with my Father and Stepmother and visit my Mother in the summers.
At this point, my Father and Stepmother had bought a house in a new development in Anchorage called Bayshore. The houses were pretty big by my standards. Many were carbon copies of one another re-oriented to give them some sense of variety. What it lacked in character it made up for in gentrified insulation, solidly middle class with minimal crime. I’d live here in Bayshore on Marathon Circle up until I graduated from Colledge. I made many good friends here and had some grand adventures.
Meanwhile, my Mother was changing residences fairly frequently during this time frame such that it’s hard to pin down an exact list. I recall an apartment in North Seattle where she lived with a boyfriend, a nice home in Greenlake where she rented the upstairs rooms from the tenant. There was an apartment somewhere near Lynwood or Edmonds near highway 99 I can place as my freshman year of high school. Flying back and forth as I did tended to blur a sense of time and place for me. I never felt it was a hardship but places where I lived less than a year are difficult to recall in any detail.
On graduating from high school I was determined to move to Seattle to go to college. I was taken with the University of Washington campus and had a real fondness for Seattle in general. I’d developed a strong interest in gaming by this point and there was a much bigger scene for it in Seattle than in Anchorage as well as more nightlife and social opportunities. Not very long before my return to Washington, my Mother had remarried and moved into a nice house in Edmonds with her new husband. It was there I took up residence to attend college at Edmonds Community college as an undergraduate.
It wasn’t too long before I wore out my welcome at my mother’s place. It had been a while since we lived together long term and we weren’t getting along well. Nor was my stepfather used to having a teenager around full time. Eventually, I was asked to move out and find my own place. Sometime towards the end of my first year of school if I recall correctly. My first rental was a room in an old house near the campus. Another student managed it on behalf of his parents who owned it, and he rented the many rooms to many students and a few drifter types. It was old and drafty and kind of moldy and filled with young bachelors but it was cheap and I got on very well with the landlord who was a great fellow.
Eventually, I got accepted into the University of Washington and started attending school there. I remained living in my room in the house in Edmonds. I liked the company and the rent was about as affordable as rent got in anywhere near Seattle. I continued living there up through my graduation. After my senior year, what was then my life long crush, came to Seattle to be with me. It wasn’t long however before she came to miss Alaska and returned there. I decided to follow her.
At first, I took up residence in the old Bayshore house in my old room, but my Father and Stepmother decided that I needed to get my own place post haste and set a short deadline for me to find a job and get out. Not surprisingly my relationship broke up shortly after I arrived. None the less I landed a pretty decent job and couldn’t really afford to move back to Seattle. Lucky for me, I made enough money to rent an honest to goodness basement apartment of my own. I was pretty heavy with credit card debt at this point but I settled in to try and work my way out from under it.
I think I spent about two years in Anchorage getting my post-college career as a software engineer started and digging myself out of debt. It wasn’t too long before I started to miss Seattle, its vibrant gaming scene, and the possibility of some career advancement. The first time I became unemployed in Anchorage, I decided it was time to head back to my old stomping grounds in Seattle.
Owing to the rents in Seattle, my first residence was again, renting a room in someone’s house, this time an attic bedroom in the Wallingford neighborhood. I worked some jobs with miserable commutes but managed to dig myself out of debt and keep my career going on an upward trend. Once my finances were in order and I had steady employment I got my first Seattle apartment up on capital hill. I shared it with a friend of mine who split the rent with me.
After a year or so on capital hill, I was working at a company called MRS where I’d eventually spend 13 years of my career. Some of the developers there had decided they would all rent a house and make a kind of software developer bachelor pad. It sounded great to me so I moved out of my apartment and we all rented a house near Shoreline Community Colledge together. I had the large upstairs bedroom and the others were scattered around the house. One by one they moved out and I ended up replacing them with other renters, mostly gamers I knew, but some simply who answered classifieds. It was while living here that I met my wife to be.
Not too long after we met, Anne moved in with me in the upstairs bedroom while I rented out two main floor rooms, one to a friend, another to a lodger I didn’t know prior to him renting there. My friend eventually got married and moved out leaving us and my other renter. Eventually, Anne and I also married and before too long were starting to think about buying a place of our own. Loans were very easy to get as this was the leading edge of the impending housing bubble in Seattle and the nation as a whole.
It wasn’t long before we found a place just a bit north in Shoreline propper. It was the largest house I’d ever lived in to-date yet also my first home. I was beside myself with excitement. Both Anne and I had gone from being indebted college students to living the American dream of our own home. We even brought our lodger along with us and rented another room the first few years to offset the mortgage payments. Ryan, our lodger, actually ended up living with us for nearly 6 years all said and done yet I never really got to know him well.
And that brings us just about up to the present. In 2015 I found myself looking for work again, but also feeling like it was a good opportunity for a big life change. We’d been considering moving south to be closer to where I worked prior to getting laid off so we already had the notion to sell our Shoreline home. Amazingly, we settled on the idea of moving into an Airstream travel trailer and touring the country as full-time nomads. Since that time, home is wherever we happen to park the Airstream and we’ve zig-zagged across the American west in our first year of travels.
And that is as near a complete account of the places I have lived as I can muster based on my memory, which admittedly is rather foggy in a few spots.