Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Ghosts of the Past

Spo raised the specter that ghosts may be our memories of homes we have lived in, my thought is it might be us revisiting past homes in our dreams. So where do I haunt?

When I was conceived and born, my parents were living in a very small 2 bedroom home in North Branch, Michigan - so that was my first home.  When I was about 5, we built a larger home next to the tiny one, actually turning the first little house into a garage - explaining why I grew up in a house with a heated garage with hardwood floors.

When I was in the first grade - the first time around - my family lived in Phoenix Arizona for about 5 months.  We rented a late-50's ranch house, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths.  It had a small front porch and built in drawers in the closets. There was a built in bookcase in the end of the tiny dinning room.  I remember the joys and wonders of living in the city, sidewalks and the smell of the high dessert morning on cool winter mornings as I walked to school a few blocks away.

After that it was back to North Branch, Michigan. Back to the farm, the house 1.5 miles from the nearest paved road. I have a love hate relationship with life on the farm.  I hated being isolated and stuck in the middle of nowhere.  I loved the freedom of 80 acres to roam with few restrictions.

When I was in the 8th grade my parents started spending winters in Florida.  The first winter was a rented house in Spring Hill, Florida - on Holiday Drive.  In January of that year, the schools went on split-sessions due to overcrowding.  I caught the bus at 6:30, classes started around 7:00 and I was out before noon and home by 12:30.  I learned to play golf that winter, and bought my first 10-speed bike - a cheapo from K-Mart - but it was wheeled freedom in civilization.   I also learned to speed read that winter.

The next two winters we rented condos in Titusville, Florida.  One winter we on the second floor, the next on the ground floor, in the same building. Mrs. Miller lived in the end on the ground floor, she was a very successful widow, the first husband left her a million dollars, she used that to bankroll the second into a VW, Porsche, Audi dealer - inheriting that left her independent for life. She taught me to paint with oils. Titusville was a metropolis of about 40,000 people in the shadow of the space center and at that time it had two-shopping malls.  Oh what fun.  I bought my first good camera on Valentines day of that second year.

The next fall my parents bought the home in Titusville that they still live in.  I spent two more winters there, and the rest of the year in Michigan until the fall after I finished High School (in Michigan.)  That fall I went to Florida and stayed.  I lived in the house in Titusville for a couple of years.

I won $5 in the McDonalds Monopoly game and stopped for breakfast one morning.  I bumped into an older friend and remarked that I would love to escape to the growing city of Orlando.  He gave me a name and phone number of an old friend in the building business, who referred me to another friend who gave me my first real job. I crashed at my brothers apartment for a few weeks until we moved to a larger apartment on Oak Ridge Road in south Orlando.

A couple of years later, I lived with a girlfriend (yes -female) in a apartment just off South Orange Blossom Trail.  Carlton Arms as I recall.  The police helicopters would land in the shopping center parking lot across the street a couple of nights a week. Against my better judgement and in fear of myself, I married her and we built our first house on Dobbin Drive on the east side of Orlando.  It was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, with a 1 car garage.  I nicknamed it Taco Bell  because of the spanish arches on the from porch and stucco.  I really grew up living there, made some changes to the house.  We only owned that one about 18 months, I sold it for a 20% profit and built a larger 3 bedroom 2 bath with a 2 car garage near the Rio Pinar Country Club in south east Orlando.  I lived in that one almost 10 years. I kept it when the divorce went through (we had built another property as a rental and she received it as part of the settlement.)  I sold that one when J and I moved to Lexington Kentucky.

When we moved to Lexington we bought a larger two story house.  It is listed as a 3 bedroom, but one room was left open overlooking the living room from above.  It a wonderful open plan, high ceilings, lot of light and bright and the only house I have ever owned with a fireplace. When J retires from teaching we will sell it.

While in Lexington I went to Law School at the University of Louisville, 82 miles away.  The first year I commuted five days a week.  The second and third year I rented a tiny efficiency apartment in Louisville.  It was in the shadow of I-65 about a mile north of the U of L campus.  It was a great place to study, no phone, no television.  I would go to Louisville on Monday morning and back to Lexington when I was done for the week. It was on the ground floor of a big old Victorian house.  The owner lived on the second floor and until the last few weeks I was there, the back half of the ground floor was under restoration.  The owner was quiet, but some of his drunk tricks were not - I could hear when Garry was having a fun night.

When I landed the job in DC, I rented an apartment in Arlington, near Reagan National Airport.  I was there for 13 months and then bought the Condo, in the building above, that I talk about from time to time in this blog.  Wow, I had never listed them all, I have lived a lot of places.

Other homes that enter the picture, my aunt and uncles old house on Lake Orion, Michigan.  My grandparents 120 year old farmhouse in North Branch, Michigan and their tiny winter home in Istachatta, Florida.  After my grandfather died, my grandmother bought a house on Worth Avenue in Titusville that she lived in for about a decade.  All these homes touched my life in some way.  Lots of places for me to haunt, lots of ghosts from my past.

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