Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Home of Our Own

I recently watched the movie “A Home of Our Own” starring Kathy Bates and Edward Furlong. Such a touching movie and that mother was strong as an ox to keep her family together. I won’t spoil the plot by telling you what happened in case you do happen to see it. I only mentioned it because it reminded me of my childhood and the constant moving that we did.

Bear with me. I digress.

Well, before leaving the urban jungle that we called home in Brooklyn NYC I always knew that my father was a shady character. When I was thirteen, my father decided he made enough enemies in NYC after living there all of his mean life, so he decided to move my mom, me, my three sisters, and my three brothers to the state capital. Yup. That’s right. Washington D.C.

I apologize in advance if I offend anyone reading who is from the D.C. area, but that place is off the chain! I learned so much about drug paraphernalia I am surprised that I didn’t become a pharmacist. I would have made straight ‘A’s’.

I also watched a neighborhood kid get shot, numerous drug busts, and one too many fights. After three weeks in that place called home, my mom decided that it was too much trouble to go outside, so we spent the next year and a half watching all of the action from our second story windows. I vaguely remember that we didn’t watch too much television around this time either.

After we were evicted from our gray painted peeling and in desperate need of a paint job house called home, we moved in with some friends in Baltimore, Maryland. My mom had the last of the Hann tribe in D.C. which made the grand total of children that my mother had an even eight. Yup. Five girls and three boys. She was only three shy of the total that my father had. He has eleven kids total. At least, that’s what he told us. But who knows.

Yes, with eleven children under his belt my papa was a rolling stone.


We stayed in Maryland for a total of eight months before heading to that great big state that always shines. Yup. Californ-i-a!

I was fifteen by then and would be sixteen in a couple of weeks of arriving there and it was not pleasant circumstances. We lived in the high desert and we were not aware that it only rained but once a year in the Mojave Desert and we just missed the annual downpour. I was missing the East coast by the time I was sixteen and three days.

After almost two years in the desert we made it back to the East Coast. My father liked driving and it took us almost a week, and he was the only driver. And I didn’t feel sorry not one bit for that mean scoundrel. He was a mean wheel man with caffeinated blood that accelerated his hatred. I was so happy to reach my grandmother’s house.

My grandmother has lived in her home since 1971. A year before her first grandchild (that would be me) was born. She has the same phone number and I’ve know her Queens address since I was six. It was the place that I called ‘home’ away from our multiple ‘homes’ before I married and got my own.

Now when I look at it, we moved so much that I began to look forward to the next road trip that would bring us new adventures, a new place to lay my head, and new friends. I never had a problem making friends, just a problem keeping them.

But we finally settled in VA in 1990, after a long extended-stay at my grandmother’s. I call this place home now, with its southern atmosphere, slow-paced patron’s who take the time to smell the roses (or who drive slow enough to watch them grow), and that everyone knows your family, and you know theirs. All of my children were born at the same hospital, they have the same pediatrician for the last 16 years, we visit the same library, and my children check out the same books now that I picked out when I was a teenager starting off here.

It’s a wonder I don’t get ‘town fever’ for staying put in one place for so long. I guess home IS a place where you lay your hat. Or in my case a Yankees cap.

I am still a New Yorker deep inside.

Bear with it!


Lucy said...

It is nice to hear you have created a "home" for your children and yourself,something you wanted. Thank God you had the stability of Grandma's house. That seemed to be your safe haven throughout your childhood years. Many do not have such a place.

BIBI said...

You are so right Lucy. Thanks!

Charles Gramlich said...

this is just such a foreign experience to me. My family was pretty big, 5 kids, but we had a completley stable home life.

BIBI said...

Good for you Charles! I guess stability is what I am aiming for now that I lived the unstable life. ;^)

Christine said...

thanks for sharing your story, Bibi, and am glad you and your family are so settled now. It's great for the kids. I love how they're using the same library books.

Ocean Girl said...

Home is where the heart is. Reading your last statements, maybe you are not home yet. :)

carma said...

When we visited NYC last week, I was ready to pick up and move there. (I was born and raised in Joisey but now live in the South)- I am a city girl stuck in the suburbs!

Thanks for this glimpse into your childhood :-)

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Bibi, enjoyed reading your this posting...
Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.

And home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.

Our life today is not a dress rehearsal, we only get to play one have fun, and keep a song in your heart. Have a nice day, Lee.