I realised something today. I have never lived in a house for longer than four years.
Let me tell you something that probably won’t be news to anyone: Moving is exhausting.
My mother was basically a gypsy when I was growing up. She really is the ideal renting candidate, but instead would buy and sell houses like it was going out of style. I’ve actually lost count of the amount of times I’ve moved over the years.
The first home I can remember was on Olive Street. We moved in, then moved out when Mum had a fight with my stepdad, then moved back in when they made up… I would’ve been about five or six then. Despite the back and forth, I do have quite a few fond memories of the place. I got my ears pierced living there. Mum bought us a trampoline. One night, when my sister and I refused to go to sleep, my stepdad banged on our bedroom window pretending to be Wee Willy Winkie. He and Mum laughed about it for days to our chagrin.
Our next home was the semi-detached house on Exmouth Road. I was about nine years old when we moved in. Mum was working evenings back then so my Grandma would babysit us regularly. While she was at work, my black Labrador, very originally named Blackie, would sleep in my bed. The moment he heard her call pull up outside, though, he’d jump out and lie in the hall. He knew Mum hated him in our beds, and he knew where his food came from 😛
Mum fell pregnant with my brother while we were living there. I remember her telling my sister and I as we went for a walk along the beach. She explained we’d need to move somewhere bigger. That’s how we ended up at Warwick Street. I started high school while living there. On my first day I was catching the train by myself – or so I thought. When I arrived at the train station, my Grandad was waiting for me.
Apparently Mum had been worried about me. She was pretty paranoid while we were living there. She became convinced that the house was haunted because my baby brother could see faces in the ceiling. We ended up selling and moving back into my grandparents’ house on Balranald Avenue; the only constant address I ever had. Between all the other houses, we would always spend a few months living there. This time, though, it was going to be a little more permanent.
My Grandad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Mum decided we were going to live with my Grandparents so she could take care of him. When my Grandad finally passed away, Grandma sold. The only constant home I’d ever known (even if it wasn’t always my home) was knocked down and turned into a couple of units.
As an adult, my time between moves has lessened even more. At twenty I lived on Cliff Street with my friend Paige. While there we were terrorised by our neighbour. It was a block of flats and he would stand outside my bedroom window at night. He once invited Paige to watch his homemade pornography. Needless to say, we didn’t renew the lease. Paige moved in with her fiance and I went to England for six months.
When I came home, I moved into Salisbury Street with Erin and Katie. They’re actually my longest running housemates to date. We lived there for a year until – once again – the neighbours made us move. While they weren’t as bad as my previous one, they were the landlord’s parents-in-law. We would frequently find them in our back yard, using it and our tool shed as their own personal green waste disposal. Our property manager wasn’t very good at explaining to them that what they were doing (entering the premises without permission) was, in fact, illegal. When we’d confront them ourselves, they’d simply say, “But we haven’t come inside the house.” *Cue eyeroll*
Next came O’Brien Street for a year and a half, still with Erin and Katie. I actually enjoyed living there, apart from the gross kitchen sink and the mould growing on the bathroom ceiling. It was an old-style cottage home from the 1800s and walking distance from work. It was this house where I totally changed my lifestyle and lost 40kg, so I suppose it will always have a soft spot for that reason alone. We left because the owners wanted to sell. Truthfully speaking, living with Erin and Katie had also run its course. Katie moved in with her boyfriend and Erin chose to live alone.
I moved in with Alexandra to Greenhill Road. It was a nice year living together, although the Internet was terrible and the upstairs neighbours sounded like they had lead feet. Alex had been my friend since we were ten years old and it was like we never missed a beat when we moved in together. My favourite nights were when we would spontaneously catch the tram into the city to go dancing.
Alex and I tried to extend our lease for an extra nine months after the first year. I was planning to move to Melbourne by then so figured it was easier to stay put for the few extra months than move twice in such quick succession. Unfortunately the landlord wasn’t too keen on the idea, even though we offered to pay six months’ rent in advance. In the end, Alex stayed with a friend for a few months until she could move out with her boyfriend.
I moved to Badcoe Street into my boyfriend Steve’s house with his two housemates. This was the first time I’d ever lived with boys (apart from my brother who is twelve years younger than me). It was entirely different from anything I’d experienced before. Not only are boys gross, they’re far more private. Girls always let each other know where they’re going and who they’re going with. I always knew if Paige, or Erin and Katie, or Alexandra were coming home that night or when I could expect to see them next. Boys on the other hand can disappear for days. There were countless times where I’d ask Chris and Henry where they were going and Steve would tell me to stop being their mother. I don’t think I ever quite got used to it.
Now I’m living in an entirely different state with Steve and we’re planning to move again in September when our lease is up. Our unit is too small. If I go to bed before Steve I may as well still be in the lounge room with how well I can hear the music he’s playing or TV show he’s watching. Steve’s hobby is home audio, to the point where our speakers are measured to the millimetre for sound propagation. Unfortunately, that means one of them is right next to the bedroom door…
A few friends have asked me if I’ll come back to Adelaide. The short answer is highly unlikely. I’m really looking forward to finding somewhere here in Melbourne that I can live in for 5+ years. Sure, I’d come back for a visit and I still want to travel overseas, but at the moment I’m happy exploring my new city.
So we’re looking for a new place. Somewhere we can stretch out. I want a home office where I can write. I want Steve to have a listening room so when I go to bed I don’t also have to listen. Part of me kind of wants to try and convince Steve to let us get a dog – even though it would probably drive me insane. Most of all, I just want to stay put.
Moving is exhausting. It’s time to put down some roots.