The first five houses I remember living in:
0. I have a single fleeting visual memory of the lush back yard of our house in Perth, Australia, where I lived from ages zero to two. But I have no actual memory of living in the house, so I won't claim it in the tally.One weird/wacky neighbor. (Just one? Ooh, it's so hard to narrow down! There's the Chicken Bone Lady, or Inspector Gadget, or the half-tranny couple—one tranny, one not—who spite-blasted Donna Summers in the middle of the night—and then, of course, there's the weird/wacky/awful Porno Neighbors—but they were all later, after the first five houses, so let's go with...):
1. The brick two-story duplex in Evanston, Illinois. We lived on one floor. I remember very little about it except that I think one time I tried or intended to try to ride my tricycle down the steep flight of outside steps. (I believe there was an older instigator involved.) Apparently I survived.
2. Our little apartment in Nairobi, Kenya, where we lived when I was four and five. All of our Christmas decorations were packed away back on the other side of the globe, so we decked the Christmas tree with paper cut-out faux ornaments.
3. The little white house on Kirk St., back in Evanston again, just a block or so from Chicago proper. (This was the era of Star Trek. I was very pleased to live on Kirk St.) It had a big willow tree in the yard that was perfect for swinging on, Tarzan-style. And the interior stairs were covered in thick red carpet and were perfect for sliding down, bump-bump-bump-bump-bump... (While living there, I had a vivid dream that I floated up the steps and around the red-carpeted upstairs. For a while, I was convinced that it wasn't a dream but that I'd actually done it. I had a similar dream/conviction-that-it-wasn't-a-dream about floating the length of the first floor corridor of our apartment building in Nairobi. Kids are weird. Or at least I was.)
4. The little brick triplex in Lewes, England, when I was eight, one of those absolutely typical British brick row-ish houses that were built all over the country and show up in all those Brit shows such as "Keeping Up Appearances". (Bou-quet!) Though the lady we were renting it from had apparently made no great effort at keeping up appearances, and the pervasive brown carpet reeked of dog urine, and the whole ticky-tacky-ish place utterly failed to live up to Anglophilic expectations of charmed English living. But it did have one great merit: It was on the very last street at the very edge of town, and I discovered that if I squeezed through a secret kid-sized gap in the overgrown hedge at the far back end of the lengthy back yard, I could step right out onto the expansive South Downs with open fields and green hills rolling all the way to the horizon.
5. The white-clapboarded green-roofed four-on-four farmhouse near Schuyler, Virginia, where I lived for most of my latter youth (and where my parents still live), built in a hurry by my grandfather and his brothers in the nineteen-teens with timber milled from the farm after the original family house burnt down in the middle of winter. (I think I've got the details right.)
1. The Earth-Art Hippie: Our little corner of Albemarle county (House #5) was a quiet place, populated mostly by quiet country people whose notions of landscaping tended towards old tractor tires laid flat and filled with pansies, or perhaps the occasional plastic pink flamingo. But then came the Earth-Art Hippie, a young hippie gent with (according to rumor) a trust fund and an excess of notions. He bought a property just down the road from us, and (according to rumor) he was going to get himself a bulldozer and sculpt the place into a big earth-art installation. And so he did. (Or so we heard. The property was back off the road and couldn't be seen.) Until he ran out of either funds or notions and abandoned the project mid-doze and moved on and was never heard from again. (Or so we heard.) After his departure, I decided to go scope it out for myself. Earth-art is fine and good, but let me tell you, half-baked half-finished earth art is a big ugly mess: a multi-acre expanse of red-clay dirt, gouged and heaped according to no particular logic, like some massive toddler's wrecked sand-box creation.Whoop, there it is.
* It might take me until half-past-forever, but I will eventually dance-Slimbo-dance all of my prescribed shimmies-n-shakes. I never claimed speed as virtue. (Slow and steady, baby. Slow and steady.)