Five years ago today I was looking for a place to live. The house I’d lived in in Coral Gables — a nice little place on a side street with nice neighbors and seven miles from my office — was in foreclosure because the guy who bought the place from my original landlord never bothered to pay the mortgage.
With the help of my good friend Margaret, a realtor and a whiz at finding the right place for the right people, we found this house. It’s much bigger than the old place, and it’s in a very nice, quiet neighborhood. Out back is a waterway, part of the water management system here in south Florida, so I can say with some truthfulness that I have waterfront property in Florida. It gets recreational use by canoers, kayakers, and people out for a quiet day of fishing or boating. It’s ten miles further to the office than the old place, but I’d rather have the quality of life I have here, and the drive can be pleasant, especially in winter when the cool breeze and side streets invite a top-down drive home.
This is what the place looked like on Sunday, June 1, 2008 when we pulled up. I’d looked at a number of different places, but when I saw this one, I just knew it was the place. That afternoon I signed the lease — being assured that the place was not in foreclosure — and the following Thursday I moved in. Here I am, five years later. The place looks pretty much the same except the bushes in the front have grown up — and been trimmed back.
By my count, I’ve lived at nineteen different addresses since I moved out of my parents’ place on the way to college in 1971… not including a couple of times where I boomeranged back to live with them. At times I lived in several places even if I only lived in the town for a short time, like when I was in Minneapolis for grad school from 1975 to 1977. The place where I did the most roaming was Colorado where I had five different domiciles between September 1982 and October 1990, and that’s not including the summers at camp where I shared a cabin with kids and ravenous mice.
This place is the longest I’ve stayed put since I was a kid, and certainly the longest I’ve been in a place of my own. It took a while for me to settle in: I waited until November 2008 before I got around to hanging all the pictures — with the counsel and guidance of my parents over Thanksgiving — and it took a full three years to unpack all the boxes of books and get the guest room set up.
I like it here. I like having a nice yard and patio, I like having the visits from the ibises and even the noisy peacocks, and I like the fact that I don’t have to think about finding another place to live. Settling down is a comfort.