61.

I was thinking about a party my parents had when I was a tiny, tiny person, in the house we lived in until I was seventeen.

The second house I have any memories of was in a neighborhood called Florida Gardens.  It was five bedrooms and two bathrooms on a quarter-acre of land, and Zillow says it was constructed in 1973.  The house was built at roughly the same time as I was!

This is the house as it appears on Google Maps. Our landscaping is all gone now, and the driveway is in worse shape than when we lived there. The house on the left is, hilariously, the house we lived in before this one- I still remember carrying my own toybox between the houses when we moved, even though I don’t think I had a room yet when I carried it over.

I lived in that house through all of middle school and most of high school.   It started out as a three-bedroom, but the garage was sealed off and converted into two more bedrooms at some point before we moved in.  My parents took the master bedroom, which was on the far side of the dining room. My room was in the back-right corner, with my elder brother’s room right next to mine. The garage-converted bedrooms were given to my other brother and my sister. They had a shared door between their rooms, which gave them plenty of opportunities to be co-conspirators when they were supposed to be otherwise engaged. I remember wandering into my middle brother’s room often to listen to his 45 records.  After my sister went off to college, some of her room became a miniature office, and my brother ran a BBS from a computer sitting in that room.

I remember when our grandmother came to visit from New Jersey in 1979. We had HBO and I was watching The Black Hole in the living room when she arrived. She would stay on the second bed in my sister’s room, and in the morning she would make us Farina. I still have a fondness for Farina, despite how bland and grits-like it is.

I digress, however- I was talking about the party. I must have been seven or eight years old- old enough to know I wasn’t allowed into the party, but also old enough to want to be involved. The Formica bar on the back porch was in use for drinks, and there was music on the eight-track player in the living room. I do not remember any of the people my parents invited- I just remember there were other adults there, and my tiny little brain wanted to see all the unfamiliar people.

I’m not sure what made me think about this house party from another time, and I’m not sure that this post even has a point, other than to distract myself from all the weirdness happening in the world right now. It’s nice anyway to think about some interesting memories from back when I was a tiny, tiny person.  Like this:

Do you have any fond or interesting memories from your childhood home?

12/52

[#AtoZChallenge] B is for Bungalow

I’ve been looking for a new place to live.

To recap, my last lease ended on the 9th of December.  I knew that my employment with Previous Mr. Company was ending on the 15th of December, but sixty days before the lease ended, I didn’t know what was coming next for me.   Since I had no certainty, I took the safer path, and put my stuff into storage, once more occupying the spare bedroom at my brother’s house.   Regular readers of this blog will remember that I stayed there twice before- the first time was just before I moved to Germany, and the second time was right after I came back, until I could populate a new apartment locally.

A few days before the employment ended, but well after the lease was past the point of no return, I learned two very important things:  First, I learned that I would be getting a contract to provide support to my Current Mr. Company, and second, I learned that this would be entirely remote work with very reasonable hours, so I could live absolutely anywhere.

Amelie and I immediately started making plans about where our next home would be.   We’re also both pretty tired of South Florida –  the traffic is horrendous, the people can be downright obnoxious, and we’re both pretty much done with having 11.5 months per year of hot-and-muggy weather as the norm.   We talked about Atlanta, Virginia, Portland, and one or two international locations.  We also talked a lot about Orlando.

So: Orlando.

Both of us have lived in Orlando at different times in our lives, and we both love the city.  Before any of my friends argue that the traffic is no better than in South Florida, I will say definitively that I would take I-4 over I-95 any day of the week.  Once you get away from the attractions and east of the Orlando sign over I-4, the traffic is downright pleasant.

As for the weather, it may have been 90F on Sunday, but by bedtime that night, the temperature had dropped to 74F.  And Orlando’s humidity was barely half of the humidity in Miami.   As I write this at 10:30pm on Sunday night, Ft. Lauderdale weather is 78 but “feels like 83,” while Orlando weather is 74 and feels like 74.   The low next Saturday drops down to 52.  I cannot wait.

I have already partially moved to Orlando-  whereas I’m in my brother’s spare bedroom in South Florida, my Orlando residence for the moment is… my brother’s spare bedroom in the other house he owns.    It’s a tiny bedroom in a very pleasant house on a lovely tree-lined street, and it’s coincidentally (and amusingly) just a short walk from where Late to the Theater‘s Jen lives.   Most of my stuff is either in the Orlando house or in a 5x5x5 storage unit nearby which costs me about forty bucks a month.  A very small part of my stuff is still in South Florida, but that’s probably not more than one carload on a future trip.

This was all supposed to be temporary though-  I just needed to figure out what was next.  I didn’t want to be a roommate for more than a few months.    My current employment situation wasn’t a known detail when I arranged this situation, and I believed that I would be able to pivot to something new very quickly when I moved in with my brother.  Four months later,  I’ve come to the conclusion that my situation is not so perilous that I can’t find an apartment of my own up here in Orlando.    I’m not being rushed to move out by my brother, but I also know he’s been very generous to me so far and I don’t want to abuse that hospitality for a long time.  Besides, I much prefer having my own space, my own kitchen, my own closets.

I wrote exensively just before I moved out of the last place about what I want in a new apartment.  I’ve extended that list out quite a bit, but I can be pretty flexible because the cost of living is lower here.  A two bedroom apartment in suburbia here costs less than what my final rent was on my one bedroom/one bath place in South Florida.

There’s one more thing that I’m considering here-  there are numerous places in and around downtown Orlando that are well within my price range.  There are one bedroom apartments in towers overlooking the city, and there are tiny little single-level apartments in the streets near Lake Eola, just a few blocks from downtown Orlando.  The appeal of both if these is tremendous-  I would love to live in a highrise apartment, where restaurants and fun things are all just outside my door.  To be able to walk to a movie theater or a concert in ten or fifteen minutes from my apartment would be amazing.  Plus you all know that I love tall places- it should be no surprise that I want to live in one.

Alternately, I could look for a place a little bit outside of downtown, and have considerably more space for a lot less money.  I’ve seen luxury apartments with seven or eight hundred square feet for less than a thousand dollars.  I saw one older (but still somewhat charming and beautifully located) one bedroom for less than $700 a month.

I have minor analysis paralysis, because I can literally live anywhere right now.  The problem is that by the end of the summer this contract will most likely end and I’ll be job hunting.  If the next employer is too far from wherever I choose to move now, I’ll have to move again.  For the ninth time in six years.

I’m kind of over it, so I hope I guess correctly.

Where do you prefer to live?  In a city?  In a suburb?  What would you choose if you were me?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.