A place I can finally call home

I've changed my permanent address a total of three times in my life. Dorms in college don't count.

The first was when I moved into 591 Allyn in Akron. This was a house I was renting with a few other college friends. A small house that probably had a whole family at one point but was instead packed with four college kids and their partners. That doesn't count the various other friends who lived with us for periods of time, including the one friend who was a live-in housekeeper for a month.

I'm no longer friends with any of those people, unfortunately. My first relationship was rough, and was long before I realized I was who I am today. My three housemates were incapable of keeping a kitchen clean; maggots in the sink, spoiled milk smells, communal food that wasn't supposed to be communal, and the like.

Granted, it was the first time living with other people in our collective lives. We had no idea what to expect and rolled with the punches. We all managed to adapt; I had my Beetle at the time and used that to get around as I wasn't sure how public transit worked yet. Still, I had a bike and used it extensively for getting around between there and campus. A simple, bright orange bike that did its job until it was one day stolen from a bike rack.

In retrospect, I should've taken more pictures of my time there. I had a decent Olympus camera and recently sorted out the good pictures I took around campus on my Flickr. While living there we all saw a row of houses across the street get torn down and in its place the Leggett Elementary School rose up. The neighborhood was a relatively quiet corner of Sumnerville, which itself was primarily a college student housing district. All of our partners lived around the corner in another house, though they all eventually moved in with us out of convenience.

After about a year, everyone was getting ready to graduate and move on from the University of Akron and into the big wonderful world outside our bubble. I had grown quite familiar with the neighborhood and to a lesser extent, the greater city of Akron. I knew where the post office was, renewed my driver's license, banked at my local branch, and often hit up the bodegas and head shops that dotted Sumnerville. The nice little things that connect you to a place. I grew up there, for a time.

This is the point where I acquired a house in the North Hill neighborhood, on the far north edge of the city. There I would live for another 4 years.

I got the house just a few days before my current lease at 591 Allyn was up. Everyone else had moved out to other places, and I was quite single at the time. Just me in there. The house was unlivable when I got it; Needed cleaning, painting, fixing up a lot of things, and the floors needed completely refninished. I had managed to get the walls painted and all the floor sanded a day or two before my last day. Moving day was simple and fast: My dad came down from Ashtabula with a truck and a trailer. We loaded my tiny bedroom onto it along with some common furniture I laid claim to and trucked across town.

Everything got put in one corner of the new living room on top of the unfinished floors. I didn't even have curtains, so we went out to buy some quick temporary ones. My mattress was in a corner where the sun didn't shine and there weren't even any electrical outlets or internet connections I could use.

Over the next month, I finished putting down a fresh coat of polyurethane on the floors and started to turn my house into a home. Working on your own house for four years is a wonderful experience that I'll never forget. The electrical was replaced, plumbing redone, appliances upgraded, interior decorated, and a place that was uniquely me began to emerge. I finally felt at home and was incredibly happy to be there.

Over that period I once again made the work of getting plugged in with my neighborhood. Got another bike. Met my neighboors. Got familiar with the local shops of where I can get what I needed. There was a post office at the end of my street. Went hiking along the Cuyahoga river across the way. Integrated and established an adult life. Thats where I grew up again.

I've now been living in Oakland for one year and a month. Its taken me a bit longer than the last time to get plugged in, probably because I came out here with nothing but a debit card, driver's license, and bag of clothes for a week. It takes a long time to turn an apartment into a home from scratch, but here I am.

I woke up this morning, had some breakfast, and wished I had a coffee maker. My apartment is quite small so some sacrifices need to be made with regards to usable surface areas. I don't have the space for such a thing right now, though I'm starting to have ideas about how to hack around that by constructing some new surfaces. My apartment is an experiment in low-volume living; how can I keep the useful things I had before in a space that is roughly a quarter of that? Am I too fixated on the past, wishing I could return to a different time?

I'm really stubborn. If I keep my mind set on a thing, it ends up happening. This is a pattern which has brought some really great things into my life, though it also can lead me to less-than-excellent outcomes. Given that, I still refuse to temper my feelings. Its a learning process. I'll accomplish the things I want to accomplish and be better at figuring out when I've really done what I've set out to achive.