I am a list writer. I write to-do lists, grocery lists, wish lists. There is a list of the bills that are due this month on the side of my refrigerator that will be replaced with a new list next month. I take great satisfaction in throwing away that list each month with every bill checked off.
Lists, however, are not just for checking things off of. They help me organize my thinking and give me a clear point of focus. I often write in the form of lists because I am incredibly bad at transitions. A list allows me to go straight from one thought to number 2. A clean break, while still having some semblance of a connection.
I began this post with the intent of listing the different homes I have lived in, and have already been derailed. Each place I have lived has held such significance for me and in the path my life has gone down that one single paragraph for each just feels like cheating. So. I will break each one into a separate post, to linger in the memories a while.
The first home I ever lived in is one I don’t remember. I’ve had conversations with many people about first memories, and the age at which we begin to hold on to information varies. For me, it at least was not in the first two years of my life.
I was born in Conroe, Texas, and lived there with my mother and father for the first year and a half after I was born. I have not a single memory of this time but I’m told that it was filled with hanging moss, fire ants, boats, and a backyard pool that was never used.
My mother had me when she was 27 years old, halfway across the country from her entire family with just her new husband and his dysfunctional family. She must have been incredibly scared and lonely, as my father’s family was full of (short-lived and I’ll spent) wealth, second and third wives, suicide, gambling, substance abuse, and addiction.
My mother is made of strong stuff, but that is an entirely different story.
The only house I do remember in Texas was my father’s parents house where we spent the Christmases of my early years. I was small and that house seemed an endless maze. I don’t recall ever finding all of the rooms, and there were closets that led to other, secret rooms.
Since I never actually lived in this house, I’m getting off topic. I have seen pictures of our Conroe house and have heard stories of how my father’s cat Milkdud pissed on all the awful shag carpets and my mother hated him (the cat, I think). I’m told I sat on a fire-ant hill in the backyard and was covered in their bites, but they didn’t do any permanent damage. It was a time of heat and turmoil.
We moved to Minnesota where my brother was born just 18 months after me. I came into a world of humidity and Spanish moss and my brother came into a world of snow and bitter winds. I’ve always wondered if that’s the reason why we turned out to be so different. Had I been born in a milder climate, would I still feel each extreme so substantially? Perhaps.
Part of me thinks I was never truly meant to be in the cold. Like a tropical bird, a stark contrast to all this white.