Places I’ve Lived is going to be a recurring theme here in Solitary Spinster land; today is episode two. The series centers on place and memory. Episode one, the Hahn House, can be found by clicking on the link.
I was thirteen the summer we left the house our father had left us from. We were finally moving somewhere bigger and roomer. This was in the seventies, Canadian politicians had money to toss about and one of the local programs involved low income housing. Our small town was to get about ten units and we were poor enough and our family make-up (one parent, school-age children) was just right.
So, the year I became a teenager was the year we moved into the low rental. I have no idea what the rent was, if it was better than living at the Hahn House that way, but it definitely had more space.
It was exactly that, low rental, subsidized, government housing. They all looked the same; they all had the same layout inside and out. They were either yellow or green on the outside; ours was forest green.
The houses were scattered about town, there were two others on our block interspersed between regular owners owned houses. They didn’t look that much different from any of the other houses built in town around the same time but they were distinguishable – box after box that looked alike yet different from the other new houses.
I don’t remember moving into the low rental. That is, I don’t remember the actual moving which seems strange to me. I’ve moved a lot. I can remember more recent moves; packing boxes, making plans, corralling friends & relatives to help – it was always exhausting and I’ve never had to move a large household. I’ve always just moved me and my ever expanding piles of furniture and stuff.
So, I don’t really remember the move itself.
Did I come back from spending the summer at Dads and it was done? Or was it done day by day in September well we were in school. Some of it must have been done on Saturdays. The principal’s boys (he had six) helped move the piano which was probably the last item to be moved.
Memory is a tricky thing.
I remember returning from my first Division III back to school dance to the Hahn house. It was a horrible experience; nobody asked me to dance and I went home in tears. This would have been grade 7 as this was when we were allowed to start going to the dances. I remember the break-up of our school divisions as this: Division I (kindergarten to grade 2), Division II (grades 3 – 5), Division III (grades 6 – 8 ) and Division IV (grades 9 to 12).
But, I remember going to skating that winter from the low rental and my first babysitting job was on New Year’s Eve and I would’ve been 12, so that makes the move in September 1972 not Summer 1973. I attended high school from 1973 – 1978 (grades 7 – 12). My Best Friend still would soon be gone as they would move to the city and nothing would ever be as carefree again.
There were good things about the move. I finally got my own room. Okay, it was in the basement (I’ve spent a lot of my life living in basements) and it didn’t have walls. I hung curtains around my bed and hardly anyone came into the basement so I had a lot of privacy. It was really close to school – just walk out the back door, cross the alley and there you were. My next eldest sister could leave the house at first (warning) bell and got into her seat before the second bell rang.
The neighbours, especially Steve & Ruby, were pleasant. Steve always asked us to his annual fish-fry at the lake. The grumpy, old lady on the other side kept to herself (she was one of my first solitary woman role models). There were little kids playing street hockey and riding their bikes around who would stop to talk or sit on the front step with me blowing bubbles. It was only two blocks to the library and a block away from the first family I started regularly babysitting for. There was more room for a growing family to spread out but my eldest sister never did get a room of her own – she slept on the couch (it was a sofa-bed) until she graduated in June. I always wonder how she really feels about that (she says it was okay).
The worst part of the move was that Willy (MY elderly cat) refused to move with us. He came for a while but the minute our backs were turned he was gone back to the old neighbourhood. I missed him sleeping with me most nights. That was the worst part of the low rental – I kept losing my cats. Willy died that first winter, I assume, as he just stopped showing up and my next cat left home the weekend I graduated High School (it was a crowded with people weekend) and never returned. They were solitary in nature like me, I guess.
Memory is a tricky thing. Talking to my family both clarifies and confuses. My memories are not always their memories.
All our memories enhance this crazy life quilt I cocoon myself within.