I'VE LIVED AT fifteen different addresses between two continents in my 31 years. With each move I changed, grew, and learned some amazing life lessons.
1. 28 Island Street, Plainview NY 11803
This is the house I spent my childhood in. A wee house in the suburbs where I spent hazy summer days chasing after the ice cream man in my swimsuit, barefoot and still wet from the sprinklers. My best friend was a mentally disabled boy who lived across the street named Stevie. I stuck up for him when everyone else teased him. He had a Nintendo before me and taught me all of the tricks for Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. This is the house where my parents sat my sister and I down and told us they were getting a divorce. My father left a care bear on my bed the night he left.
Lesson Learned: Always be kind and see the best in people. Stuffed bears do not make up for poor parenting.
2. 78 Old Farm Road, Roslyn, NY 11577
We moved to this house in the summer of 1994, right before I began my freshman year of high school. I was an awkward teenager, starting the year at a new school with no friends. I had my first crush, my first kiss, and went to my first punk rock show when I lived in this house. My sister ran away from home and my mother became overbearing. I snuck out and went to see Elliott Smith play at Tramps. I had my first guitar lesson. In my bedroom, I found out Kurt Cobain died. I read Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and felt like I'd unlocked an amazing secret. I holed up in my wayward sister's room where the computer was and spent hours on dial-up AOL (screen name: SillyXGrrl.) I wasn't Straight Edge- it was a reference to a Descendents song, Riot Grrl and Kim Gordon's clothing shop X-Girl. Countless hours were spent perfecting mix tapes for unrequited crushes.
Lesson Learned: Never ever feel pressured to conform. High school is hell on earth and life gets so much better after you graduate. If someone is popular in high school, there's a 99% chance he or she will wind up miserable and uninteresting. I learned this from a lifetime of watching romantic comedies (and seeing photos of former classmates on Facebook.)
3. Indian Quad Tower, 14th Floor. 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 11222
Freshman year of college at a state university was insane. I dreamed of going to Bard, where I imagined myself surrounded by like-minded alts discussing French New Wave cinema. Instead, due to my mother's protests that state universities are "about half the price" of private institutions, I wound up at a massive party school that was architecturally gauche and where dudes wore Dave Matthews Band t-shirts. I had a roommate who was a hippie, and we experimented with a lot of drugs in this dorm room. I joined a photography club where I met amazing people who, like me, were more interested in art, film and music than frat parties and beer pong.
Lesson Learned: No matter where you are, you can always find interesting people if you look beyond the surface. Don't ever take mushrooms before going to an all-day music festival.
4. State Quad, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222
Sophomore year of college was amazing. I lived in a suite with a fun group of girls, though my roommate was a bit mentally unsound and a bit of a bully. I fell asleep to the Smiths every night for a month and stayed up all night playing Dr. Mario on several occasions. Most of this year is a blur.
Lesson Learned: Staying up all night playing video games is a surefire way to be placed on academic probation.
5. 95 North Allen Street, Albany NY 12222
This was a two-story house in downtown Albany that had a porch and the first time in two years I had my own bedroom. I met the first love of my life when I lived here. I recently discovered that this house has since burned down.
Lesson Learned: When you fall in love for the first time, you won't remember much of anything else.
6. State Street, Albany NY 12222
I really loved this apartment. My room was so massive that I had two beds in it and the rent was less than $300 a month. It was my last year in Albany and I accomplished a lot living here, including writing the entirety of my senior thesis on women and hysteria in literature in two days. Here's where I barely had the courage to break up with the first love of my life. I still remember the look on his face when I told him I was leaving the country and wasn't planning on coming back to him.
Lesson Learned: Washing machines in apartments make life so much easier. Breaking up with someone, even if you're the one doing the breaking up, hurts like hell.
Up next: Parts 6-15, in which I leave the country, fall in love at first sight, and discover how amazing life in the UK is.
Transience is bliss.