I wanted to do a post about moving. One of the losses on our list is this: Did you move more than twice by the age of 10? I did.
I got distracted while writing this, because I wanted to find pictures of where I lived. And I did! So then I had to send them to my sister Beth. And then we had to a little remembering.
So back to this post …
We moved a bunch when I was still to young to remember. I was born in Idaho, then we moved Washington, then Oregon, and then North Dakota all before age four.
The first move I remember was to Minnesota when I was 4 or 5 years old. My dad was a forest ranger and we lived in a really great log cabin that was built in 1935 out of 16-18″ diameter logs. We lived in the middle of nowhere on the boundary waters between Canada and the US. I went to a tiny school with only 12 students per class. We had to walk to school through the woods and during deer hunting season we were bused or had to wear safety vests so the city slickers wouldn’t shoot us. The garbage dump was the most exciting place around because tourists from the city would get out of their cars with a small bag of marshmallows and feed them to the black bears who were looking for food. They didn’t understand not to mess with wild animals that weigh a couple hundred pounds more than they do.
We moved suddenly to Chicago when I had just turned 9 years old. My dad had quit his job and dumped us (my mom, sister and myself) at his parents’ house in the middle of winter. This is a period of time my family really never talked about much. We referred to it as “dad’s mental breakdown”. He travelled south through Texas and finally ended up finding a job in Southern California and he supposedly figured out what he wanted in life. So until then we were stuck with my grandparents who hated my mother.
When we went to school in Chicago we were told to lie about this being temporary, because my mother was afraid they would not accept us in school. So I spent my time trying to stay low and be quiet and not add to the stress. The school I went to in Chicago was huge. It was three stories high and the classes must have had well over 30 kids in them.
Six weeks later, and the week before Christmas, I found myself enrolled in a school in Southern California, which was our new home. We now lived in an apartment. My mother had to go to work almost right away to help support the family.
All that moving as a child forced me to withdraw, stay quiet and taught me not to make friends. I learned to stay away from my parents and I felt alone. It also taught me to rely on myself, which isn’t a bad thing, but I should not have had to do so at age 9.