Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Life on the Move

I was just thinking, this morning, that I’ve now lived in Baltimore and in my particular apartment, for over 12 years.  That’s longer than I’ve lived in any one place throughout my entire life.

My dad moved us around a lot when we were kids, always in pursuit of better jobs, to better take care of our family.  It’s no surprise that I ended up doing the same thing myself.

We started out in Pittsburgh, along with everyone on both sides of my family.  In 1968, when I was 6, Dad took us over the wall and we lit out for Chicago, settling in Glen Ellyn, a western suburb.

This move is what I blame for my lousy handwriting.  In Pittsburgh, I was in second grade and we were still printing.  When I started 3rd grade in Chicago, everyone was already writing in cursive, so I was pretty much just tossed into it without much training.

We lived for 2 years there before moving to Bexley, OH, a suburb of Columbus.  We were only there for 1 year before moving to another area of north Columbus, where we lived for 4 years.  That was a great neighborhood for kids.  There were lots of kids in the neighborhood, a huge community pool and a mall within walking distance.  We rode our bikes everywhere.  Every summer morning, we’d disappear outside, maybe turn up again for lunch, and Mom wouldn’t see us again until dinner.  Then we’d be back outside to play Hide & Seek or Kick the Can until the other kids got called in.

I don’t remember ever having a curfew… I think my parents were just as happy to have us out of the house.

After my 9th grade year, we moved up to the farmhouse in Monclova OH, a hiccup of a town to the west of Toledo.  We lived 10 years there, although I had a couple apartments of my own after college.  As I mentioned in my End of the Barn post, Mom and Dad moved to Baltimore in 1986.

Since I was out on my own and working at the record store, I remained behind.  My brother was at Ohio State and after he graduated, he joined my parents in Baltimore.  My sister was living with a boyfriend eventually did the same, once it ran its course.

In 1986, I left everything I knew behind to move to Parma OH, for the opportunity to manage my own store.  I lived there for 4 years, in 2 apartments, until I moved to Schenectady NY, for a chance to be in the same market as my company’s home office.

Eventually I did catch on at HQ, as described in my “Brushes” series of music biz adventures, from March.  I got married (cold chill runs down back) and moved to Clifton Park, a suburb just north of Albany and stayed there until the job and my marriage ended. 

In late 1997, I was sick of things.  This will be a post of its own one day, but in a nutshell, I no longer had a reason to be there.  I’d always lived wherever I had to in order to work at a particular job.  I’d spent a lot of years and a lot of holidays in towns without access to family or close friends and I was tired of it.  I had a decent job managing a video rental store and was in the process of totally turning it around (in a good way).

But I had no life.  The hours were horrible and my off times usually came when all the rest of my friends were at work.  All I had was playing hockey, but that wasn’t enough to make up for everything else that lacked in my life.

So I made probably the hardest decision I ever made… to quit my job, pull up stakes after 7 years in New York, and move to Baltimore to live in the same town as my brother and sister.  I hadn’t lived near family in over eleven years and wanted to try it out.

My parents were living in Green Bay by that time and I considered going to live there, but 2 things prevented that:
  • Winters in Green Bay.
  • I knew my parents were planning on retiring to Florida before too long, which would leave me alone again.
Anyway, I came to Baltimore and bunked in with my brother and his wife until I could get on my feet again.  Not wanting to be a sponge for one minute longer than I had to, I managed to find a job by the 2nd month and was able to move out by the end of January.

That job evaporated pretty quickly though, so my brother managed to get me an interview at his financial services company.  Despite not having a lick of banking experience, I tricked them into hiring me and here I am, 12 years later.
It's not exactly the Travels of Indiana Jones, but it felt like a lot at the time.  The numbers represent different residences.

So… 12 years in Baltimore.  Like I said, it just hit me this morning that this is the longest I’ve been anywhere.  12 years on one apartment; 12 years coming to work in the same building… God, I hope that doesn’t make me a Baltimorean… or “Baltimoron”, as I usually refer to others in town, usually those that are driving in front of me and doing something inexplicable.

So far, my one concession is that I actually follow the Baltimore Orioles.  Hell, they suck just as bad as the Pirates do, so there’s really not much difference, except I can walk down to Camden Yards to see an Orioles game right from work.  And an added benefit of having your team suck is that you can always get walk-up tickets.

Funny though… a couple of years after I got here, my sister up and married her childhood sweetheart and moved back to Ohio.  But I still have my brother here, as well as 2 very special nephews.

I guess this is what putting down roots feels like.  And it’s not bad.  (knocking wood…)


Miley said...

I've never lived anywhere for 12 years. Not even the same city, much less the same house! Maybe when I'm your age I will have been in the same place for 12 years.

I've got a long way to go until I get to be THAT old though. (couldn't resist!)

bluzdude said...

You have a lot of time to settle in. It took me 38 years to end up here. Enjoy the journey!

DG said...

God, I hope that doesn’t make me a Baltimorean…

Do you root for the Ravens? (OMG, do you believe I almost said Colts? I have the same problem with the Oilers. Houston WHAT's???)

It is a very sweet story, tho. Family is, well, family....

bluzdude said...

I absolutely loathe the Ratbirds. I want them to go 0-16 every year. I'd rather beat then twice and go 0-14 than lose to them twice and go 14-2.

You can check out my in depth reasons why (they are many, and specific) right here:

Burgh Baby said...

All that moving and the Yinzer stuck with you. I like that.

Angelia Sims said...

That's a lot of livin' in one area! I don't know you that well but 12 years sounds like a (shhh) commitment. :-) I think it's interesting to see where you've come from and why.

I've been in Dallas/Fort Worth 20 years now but my zig zags would be all over the place moving between suburbs. I like moving around it's fun. I can't do it for a while now since I have
a daughter in high school.

Baltimore sounds nice. You have the harbor and pretty great music venues.

Cassie said...

Sounds a lot like our moving, however we moved between two states and just a lot of apartments and rental houses. It's like we're kindered spirits.

bluzdude said...

Burgh Baby,
I may not have lived there long, but I always consider Pittsburgh my home town. Almost all of my Dad’s family still lives there, so we’ve always maintained the connection.

And we've flaunted our Pittsburgh-ness everywhere we’ve gone. I even went so far as to paint my office at a Cleveland-area record store yellow with black trim, just to piss off the locals.

bluzdude said...

I absolutely HATE moving. That’s the main reason I’m still in the original apartment I found when I came to Baltimore. I figure, I don’t want to move again until it’s into an actual house.

Baltimore has its nice sides, but it also has the same problems as any other big city… crime, drugs, staggering poverty, crappy public schools, bombed out roads…

But there’s some very nice countryside just outside the city. As you said, the Inner Harbor is nice, most of downtown is OK. There are cool places to go out, in Fells Point or Federal Hill. But if you stray too far… watch out. You just have to be careful.

bluzdude said...

I think there's no question that we are. =o)#

But it was tough, when I was in school, always being the "new kid". Just as I'd make friends, off we'd go again. But I can't complain. We always went to a better place, and we got to see and do a lot of interesting stuff.

Cassie said...

And see, that's the silver lining.

My favorite place we lived was in Minnesota in these apartments called Park Place. I always felt like I was living in a Monopoly game. Plus they had a whirlpool in every building, a pool, tennis courts, volley ball courts, bike trails and lots and lots of memories.

bluzdude said...

That sounds like a place I lived in Cleveland. I was only there for one year, before moving to Albany, but it was great... no whirlpool though,(or volleyball or tennis) but it was right beside a great bike trail, had a nice pool (around which often reclined a number of MILFs) and most importantly, a GARAGE!

I hated leaving there... when I went to Albany, I got half the apartment for a bunch more money.

Cassie said...

Isn't that the way it always goes....

Bachelor Girl said...

I moved around a lot as a kid too (my dad was an executive in the construction and maintenance industry, a job notorious for frequent relocations), and while parts of it SUCKED SO MUCH, I can name two major advantages off the top of my head:

1. My family and I can pack a house and move in record time. Seriously. It's amazing. We once packed the contents of a five-bedroom house in Atlanta in nine hours.

2. We are the polar opposite of hoarders. Even though my parents now live in the house in which they will almost certainly die, we still compulsively throw stuff away because OH MY GOD WE MIGHT HAVE TO PACK THIS DO WE REALLY WANT TO PACK THIS I THINK NOT.

3. I will never have to drag my parents out of some house where they've accumulated 50+ years' worth of crap.

Also, I visited Baltimore once, in February of '99. It is a breathtakingly beautiful city, but I'm telling you, this Deep South girl thought she was going to DIE of COLD. I have literally never been so cold in my entire life, and God willing, I never will be again.

Bachelor Girl said...

Oops. Make that THREE major advantages.

I TOLD you I suck at math.

bluzdude said...

Bachelor Girl,
1. We always had movers, because each time we moved, it would be on account of a job and Dad would work that into his employment agreement. Of course, once I got out on my own, it was all on me. Like you, I know the drill… I just hate it.

I only had movers once. That was when I went from Albany to Baltimore. My dad had been telling me that he would pay for any move that involved me leaving New York. I guess he didn’t want any New Yorkers in the family. But I still had to pack. On the plus side, I still have all the boxes (much to Pinky’s dismay… she’d rather have the closet space.) But now I have all these boxes that are pre-labeled. All I have to do is get them out and fill them with whatever the box says. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all my new shit.

2-3. I may not be a hoarder, but I sure have a lot of random crappola. That’s another part of packing… weeding out all the crap you don’t really need to move. The one move for which my folks had to pay, when they retired and moved from Green Bay to Florida, they got rid of everything! But with no basement or storage areas in a new house, you have to cut the clutter.

4. Perspective is a funny thing. To me, one of the benefits of moving from Albany to Baltimore was that winters in Baltimore are so much warmer. If you ever tried winter in upstate NY, or God forbid, Green Bay, I’m quite sure your head would explode like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2. But if you ever get back to Baltimore, be sure and let me know… I’ll buy you a drink and a crabcake.