It feels like only last week that I moved
into this Barn in Santa Barbara but apparently it's been a bit longer than
that. Long enough in fact, for my lease to be up and my landlord to request
that I vacate so he can move back in himself. Sigh. It's partly my own fault
for only signing a 6-month lease. Damn my inability to commit.
I have only two more weeks here before I
hit the road. I've decided to just put all of my things back in storage and
live out of a suitcase again. Between work in Europe, the WSOP in Vegas and
visiting friends and family to fill in the gaps, I don't really need to have my
own place to live until at least August. Maybe even September. Part of me hopes
that by then, my landlord will have gotten himself another awesome job in SE
Asia and I can just move back into the Barn for a while. That's if I
haven't moved back to Europe by that point. Who knows? I'm feeling a bit adrift
at the moment.
I love my life and I love my ability to
travel the world and see all of the people I care about but sometimes having a
community of people - MY people - scattered all over the world is hard. The
idea of moving to yet another country to start yet another life and create yet
another great group of friends, only to pick up and leave again in 6 months to
a year - that does not appeal to me. The truth is, no matter where in the world
I am, I'm always homesick. My family is in Canada. My 'hometown' community is
in England. The wonderful group of friends who have become a huge and necessary
part of my heart are here in Santa Barbara. Adding another location to call
'home' seems foolhardy.
When I heard the news that I needed to
move out of the Barn, I started thinking about all of the different places that
I've lived. As I began counting them up, it was surreal, this dawning
realization that I've been a traveler for nearly all of my life. I've always
seen myself as a homebody; someone who loves nothing more than to spend
evenings surrounded by friends and loved ones; talking, laughing and eating
(always eating) rather than being out there having adventures. A lot of my
friends see me as an adventurer and I've always laughed at what I thought was
their misconception. As I counted up my number, the shift in perspective
was sudden and dizzying.
I'm definitely a wanderer. So far, I've
lived in at least 27 different homes. This isn't including all of the different
hotels I've been in, sometimes for up to a month at a time. Going through the
list brought back a lot of memories. Some painfully good and some painfully
bad. One clear fact: my life has been really, really full. This isn't
inherently positive or negative. It's just a fact that I'm trying to digest and
decipher right now, as I put my few possessions into boxes and store them away
in a dark place again for an undetermined length of time.
So here it is. My list:
1. The house where I was born.
2. The house in High River
3. A short stint in Ontario
4. A year or so living in a camper as we
travelled around Canada
5. My childhood home, built by my father. This was the longest by far that I've ever lived anywhere.
6. The fancy house in Peace River. The first
place that I remember living in that seemed 'normal' in terms of the rest of
society. It even had an indoor toilet!
7. Post high school, living with my best friend's
family for a few months as mine adventured up to the Northern-most reaches of Canada, looking
for a new home in a new wilderness.
8. The house I rented with my parents when they
9. Playing house and co-habiting in my first
apartment during University. A beautiful, old, oak trimmed flat which was
completely out of our price range but incredibly romantic while it lasted.
10. The cheaper place we moved into. It
had a crazy man living in the basement and I remember that I could see his eyes
as he watched me through a crack in the wall while I did laundry downstairs.
When he started talking to me through the wall as well, telling me how he'd
always wanted to 'hug a pretty girl,' we moved out of there as fast as we could
11. The basement suite below what seemed
like a very nice young family. Sadly, the husband turned out to be another
psycho and after a massive overblown fight when we discovered that they'd been
letting people stay in our apartment whenever we were out of town visiting
family, we moved yet again.
12. The condo near the University. One of
my favorite places. I could walk to classes and it had a fireplace. We also
didn't have to share walls with any crazies (that we knew of).
13. The basement flat in the North of the
city. We were there long enough for me to plant a garden and actually be able
to harvest some big ass pumpkins for Halloween one year. A great place but
living underground sucks. Always.
I'd never even been out of Canada before
but what the hell. Why NOT move to a foreign country with no job and no place
to live? We always had more nerve than sense and life really was just one big delicious adventure.
14. The studio near Hyde Park. When the
futon/sofa bed was fully extended, I could stretch out and touch both walls
with my hands and feet. It was tiny. I'm still sure that our landlord was
letting himself into the apartment while we were at work. Some days there were
10 forks and no spoons. Other days, 12 knives and one fork and then the next
day there'd be 4 of everything. Weird. Plus there was the neighbour who really
did think that Britney Spears was talking to him through her music. He yelled
about bombs a lot too, always in the middle of the night. Welcome to London.
15. Islington. Not the nice bit and there
were burnt out cars EVERYWHERE. This small town Canadian girl was terrified a
lot of the time but it taught me a lot about being tough. It also taught me to
never, ever make eye contact with strangers.
16. The place by the old cemetery.
Non-descript. Not a happy place.
17. Being a homeowner for the first time.
Hurrah! A studio flat in SE London. A great place to live but impossible to
sell due to it's archaic leasehold and it nearly spun me into bankruptcy. It
was also, quite possibly, haunted.
18. My first foray into having
'flatmates' as an adult. I answered an ad and moved in with an actor and a
clown. Clearly my judgment has improved since then. They both irritated the
living shit out of me, especially when the clown took up tap-dancing. And
they never did their fucking dishes or paid the electric bill when it was their
19. Back to the studio flat in SE London
after yet another sale fell through. Seriously, that place was definitely
haunted and/or cursed. After using the last bit of space on my credit card to
hire someone to track down the building's freeholder and suing him to force him
to give me my legal right to amend the lease to make the place saleable, I was
finally free. Massively and horrifyingly in debt, but free.
20. Brighton. My spiritual home and one
of my favourite places in the whole world. The house on the hill. A very
21. Living on a futon in my friend's
living room after a relationship went south. I was so happy there. I think that
they were a little bit afraid that I'd never leave.
22. Hove, with my gorgeous friend with
the funny name. I loved sharing a flat with her and we'll always be friends. I
visit her whenever I can and still miss her terribly.
23. The art deco house in Kemptown.
Utterly gorgeous but a little bit lonely.
The United States
24. Montecito - Living in an avocado
ranch has its perks. Mostly the avocados.
25. A couple of months in a house in
Vegas. It had a pool for the dog and she spent most of her time swimming back
and forth to deal with the heat.
26. Hope Ranch - probably the most
incredible view that I'd ever seen but not very homey.
27. Freedom House - my friend's amazing
granny flat on the Riviera in Santa Barbara. Actually THIS place had the most
amazing view I'd ever seen. My friend offered it to me, knowing that I had no
idea where to go to and was considering moving back to England. I was so
chuffed and touched that my friends wanted me to stay that I ended up renting....
28. The Barn. This is the
first place in more than 10 years that's really felt like home. Totally mine,
totally me and totally suited to my tastes. And the fact that it's in the backyard of two friends who I really love... that's just a bonus I can't even express clearly. Getting a 'hey neighbour' and a smile from these guys when I come home or being able to pop in to say hi on a whim, these things are what community means to me. I'm pretty gutted to have to leave
it but it's made a very clear impression on me about what qualities are
important to me in my life.
So, where's next?? I have, quite
literally, no solid idea. Wherever it is, I hope that it's very close to people
I love and that I don't need to move again after 6 months. I am seriously
frakking tired of that.
I'm curious. Is this as
crazy as it sounds to my own ears? How many places have you lived in? Maybe 27 homes isn't actually that many and I'm just being a drama queen about this
because I really, REALLY don't want to move out of the Barn. I could use
a reality check from you guys so lets hear your numbers in the comments box.