The first move I remember was in the summer following the 3rd grade. My dad, a state police officer, had been transferred from South Haven, a small tourist beach town in southwest Michigan, to Detroit, one of the most dangerous cities in the country. State police officers in Michigan expect two transfers in their career, and my dad, then about eight years into the twenty-five he would spend there, was expecting it. He grew up in the Detroit area, and hated it, and didn't want to go back, but it wasn't an option to stay.
He left several months before we did, as mom, my sister (who had not yet started school), and I waited for the house to sell and to finish out the school year. He visited as often as he could, but, most memorably, he would send us tape recordings of his voice. He wasn't much for writing letters, but I remember these tapes like they were yesterday. We'd get one in the mail, pop it into the cassette player, and listen to dad talk to us. Heidi and I would make mom play it before bed every night, because he used to tell us "good night" in the tape. This is one of the saddest and sweetest memories of my father growing up.
We moved to the Detroit area, settling into a suberb called Redford Township. There, we lived for almost four years, during the important formative years of late elementary and early junior high school. The house was so different from the ranch out in the country where we lived in before. In South Haven, our nearest neighbor was nearly an acre away, and, in Redford, he was fifteen feet away. The houses lined up on the street, separated only by a driveway. Still, I loved it. I made my first best friend, a kid across the street named Marcus, and we spent hours playing pitcher-catcher with a tennis ball or talking about girls. In fact, we knew all of our neighbors, I made a lot of great friends.
Moving from there after the 6th grade was hard. I remember crying during moving day, and my dad looking at me and saying, "It's alright, son, no one cares if you cry." I still get a little misty-eyed thinking about that block of Leverne Street. When Grandma - who lived in Redford about a mile away - died this summer, her funeral home was just a few blocks from the old house, and my sister and I not only drove by, but we knocked on an old neighbor's door. They recognized us right away, even after 20 years, and said they were expecting us since they had seen Grandma's name in the Obituary section.
So we moved back to South Haven, building a house just two lots away from the first house my parents owned. I was so excited to go back, despite my love of Redford Township while growing up. South Haven is a beautiful city, and we spent many hours talking about that southwest Michigan paradise we had left. By the time I graduated from high school more than six years later (we moved back in 1988, I graduated in 1995), of course, I was jaded by the smallness of the town, by its dead winters, and by its conservatism.
I moved to Michigan State in August of 1995, just before my 18th birthday. For some reason, this wasn't a particularly memorable move. I remember packing up all my things in the car, and my dad and mom driving me up there. I remember my dad saying, "(Epiph), there are so many opportunities on this campus, and make sure you take full advantage of them," and that's always something I tried to do while there. I loved going to Michigan State for almost the entire six years I was there.
One of my most memorable moves occurred while there. The summer after my sophomore year - an important year, because it was the year I had my college multiple hookup partner, my first drink of alcohol, my first job where I felt a part of the campus, the year I got the RA job for the next year - I ended up deciding at the last minute to stay in East Lansing for the summer. It didn't seem so at the time, but I now recognize it as a big move - the first real break from home with my parents, making summer 1996 the last time I would ever spend any significant length of time at their house. A girl I'm still friends with (she called me Thursday night for the first time in a few months, but I can't call her back until I get my phone back) convinced me to get an apartment at Cedar Village Apartments for the summer. This was a big party-spot on the MSU campus, and that's saying a lot. The summer was a memorable one - lots of vodka, lots of slurpees from 7-11, (often together), an almost-job selling knives, working in a paper cup factory, bats in our apartment - but the moving day might have been the most memorable part. I just remember this girl, helping me pack up my dorm room, with my dad looking bemusedly from the doorway, as she screached at me to throw shit like my purple shag carpet and half-used dental floss away. She's with me in spirit this weekend, as I try to throw everything away that I haven't used this year.
By the time 2000 came around, I was a fifth year senior, and pretty depressed - I tipped the scaled at over 300 pounds, I skipped class all the time, I was sick all the time, I hated my residence life job, and was just going through the motions. Luckily, I had a rejuvenation in grad school, as the regular schedule of student teaching and doing things that mattered to people who needed it (I student taught in Lansing City Public Schools) really agreed with me. I also took on a residence life job I mostly enjoyed, as Assistant Hall Director of a dorm in the middle of campus. I loved student teaching and being a Hall Director, and did things like lose 50 pounds (I eventually lost 110 in all) and start running every day.
Still, by the time 2001 ended, it seemed most of my friends were getting married or getting ready to get married, but I just felt like the world was my playground and didn't want to feel tied down to anything. I couldn't decide where to move, but I knew I wanted a change from Michigan. Should I move to California, where first year teachers make $45,000? Florida, where my grandparents lived? Charlotte? I ended up getting offered jobs in all those states, and wentsofar as driving down to Charlotte (where, on that trip, I happened to see a then-unknown John Mayer in an audience of 40 in Durham at a place called Cat's Cradle) to talk to a principal there. I didn't take that job, though, as the teaching salaries are horrible there ($28,000), and something about Charlotte just didn't mesh with me. So I continued to drive up the coast, stopped in Baltimore, and fell in love with it.
I moved down here with my best friend from college, who was in a similar position to me - no ties, a recent teaching certificate in hand. We found this house by chance, after meeting a guy at teacher orientation who was moving out of it. We misunderstood him, so we ended up moving in while he was away on a weekend - we just thought he had left the place a mess - and quite a scene occurred on the front porch. But it all ended up working out okay in the end.
The house has been good. It was owned by a hands-off old lady for much of my time here, and the rent of $750 for the whole house was split up nicely between three of us (we met up with another new teacher as well). After that first year, best friend moved to Florida, and 2nd roommate got married, so I've continued to have parades of roommates come through these doors: crazy Todd, the asshole Christian McGinty (who ripped me off of $400 and didn't tell me he was moving until 2 weeks beforehand), great friend Rob, good friend Jesse, the dropped-off-the-planet Fool's Fate, Daria and her girlfriend before they moved into their new house (they've since broken up and it is Daria's place where I'm moving, one zipcode over), and, lastly, "Bobby" from around March to the time he went to college.
I'm really ready to move, though, as the house is way too big for me and the new landlord wants to fix the place up and raise rent. But the path here was one guided by chance and gut feelings, and the path away from here is guided by the same. In fact, I still don't really know how I ended up here, or what compelled me to move away from everything I've known, but it's worked out well for me. I still miss my folks, but the plan to move back someday has become less and less likely. Still, I haven't bought a house yet, and that's probably significant; I guess I just don't place enough faith in Baltimore City Public Schools to do the right thing consistently enough to commit just yet. But I probably will soon (if I'm still in this new place in a year, please shoot me).
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