Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Search for Permanence

My mother used to joke that she'd need to get a new address book just for all the different addresses I've had. If I were to publish a roster of all the different places I've lived in my adult life, it would make for a longer-than-usual blog. You'd probably call me a nomad, a wanderer, someone who can't stay in one place too long.

And yet I am a true, dyed-in-the-wool Cancer; my home is vitally important to me. So why all the moving around? Restless?

For the first 18 years of my life, I grew up in the same house, on the same street in the same little Ohio River pottery town called East Liverpool, Ohio. Hilly and situated just where Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia meet, it's where my roots are and where most of my family continues to live to this day, making up a part of its population of 12,000, give or take a few.

But then I went away to college. For a little boy who always dreamed of living in New York City and couldn't wait to get out of the little burg where I was reared, you'd think I'd choose a more happening, urban school than Miami University. Miami is pretty, bucolic, in the tiny town of Oxford, Ohio, which has a population (minus the students) of even fewer than my home town. But it was where I went and where I got a great education (mainly from a wonderful creative writing professor named Milton White). I lived there for four engaged there and followed my fiancee to:

Chicago. Now we're talkin'. This was the big city life I'd always dreamed of, and where my nomadic existence really took hold. In my twenty or so years in the windy city, I lived in no fewer than twelve different places, from the northside lakefront suburb of Evanston, to the Chicago neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Edgewater, Lakeview, Ravenswood Manor, and Lincoln Square.

I took time out of my extended stay in Chicago to move to Peoria, IL, where I lived for four years. Then Tampa, FL, where I lived for two, then back to Chicago.

Then Miami for a year and a half and now I just celebrated my two-year anniversary here in Seattle, where I've lived in the same townhouse since we moved here back in 2008. I hope to stay here for quite a while, maybe until I die. My partner and I are looking into buying a place in the spring, so that will mean another move, but at least within the same city.

But who knows where I'll end up? Almost all of these moves were unpredictable. I never planned on living in Tampa, Miami, Chicago, or Seattle. It just happened. Circumstances. Jobs. Men.

Who knows where I'll end up? Maybe next door to you.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Men - yes, that's always a factor, isn't it? I'm afraid I'm as bad or worse - born in PA, but moved to Ohio as a baby (does that count?), a little town not far from Miami University, called Eaton; then, Dayton and Cincinatti, and Birmingham, Alabama (men again); back to Ohio, then Los Angeles, lived all over that place - Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Wilshire District, Studio City, North Hollywood; back to Ohio for a spell (Celina) then Big Bear, up in the mountains; then San Francisco, again different locations; and finally West Virginia. And, oddly, I'm like you, hate moving.

  2. There are eight members of my immediate family. Not one was born in the same place. After I was born, we moved 5 times before we settled in to where I finished school up to Grade 12. From there I lived in 3 places until 1978 when I moved to L.A. In L.A. I lived in at least 10 places + 1 month in my car. Since leaving L.A. I've lived in 3 different cities in Ontario, I then moved to Bermuda, where I lived in 2 different islands. Back in Canada I have since moved 4 times, not counting the 6 months in 4 different hospitals and a couple of months in a hospice.

    Outside of my childhood home, I don't think I've lived in one place more than 3 years. I guess I've always been rootless.

    Funny thing is, I hate the act of moving, but I do love being in new places. I'd move tomorrow if I could find a place I could afford that interested me.

  3. You are like me, Victor, in many ways. I was just thinking about you yesterday and how close I felt to you, even though we've never actually met in person. And I remember Eaton, parents and I went to a restaurant there once during Parents' Weekend. I also remember some graffiti about dating a girls from Eaton and Dayton and the confusion therein. I won't repeat it here.

  4. I'm with you, Pat, on hating moving. Was there ever a more heinous chore? But I am actually hoping to be able to say, someday soon, "Oh yeah, I've lived here five years." Now that would be something.

  5. Spooky. I live in Akron, Ohio. Always have, maybe always will. I hate moving, too, but find myself getting restless about 2 years into a new place. Oddly, I seem to satellite around the Highland Square area. Eclectic mix of people and rainbows everywhere. Is it a writerly thing maybe? I've been here a year and a half and I'm already feeling twitchy.

  6. The practical aspects of moving (packing, finding a new place to live, etc.) suck. But it's always an adventure once you're actually in a new place. There's something fun about a clean slate, isn't there? I've moved a bit, but not too much. Born in L.A., moved up to Sac in jr high, New York for college, spent college summers either in Europe, Sac, or Orange County, New Orleans in August 2005 where I planned to stay for a few years during law school but Katrina hit, back to Cali, then to Oregon for law school, and now back to Nor Cal. I've no idea where I'll end up next either, lol.

  7. Oh Rick, you don't want to live here, at least not in the redneck area I'm currently living at in southern California. Never lived outside the state yet, but I have lived at eleven different addresses. Maybe that's not so bad in fifty (yikes) years.

  8. Nice article. As a sweeping generalization, I think gay men tend to be more mobile than others since our hometowns are often a mixed bag and there aren't kids to root us in one place. I moved around a lot in my 20's. Now, settled with my partner in NYC, a partner who grew up here and never left, never even got a driver's license, I think I'm here to stay. Until retirement at least - we joke about going to one of those gay retirement communities in Florida and re-enacting The Golden Girls.

  9. I love the idea of reenacting The Golden Girls, Andy. I doubt you could hope for a better old age. Although you'd be change the location.

  10. I've moved several times, myself, but I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, land of steel mills and churches. I've returned here after stints in Whiting IN and Seattle. This place is like a whirlpool that keeps sucking me back in. My family is all here too, either in the city or at least skirting the edges of it. I hate moving, but I'd love to get back out to Seattle.