Five houses, eight years. These domiciles are full characters in our gypsy story.
Getting familiar with them is fraught with the intimate awkwardness of a first middle school slow dance. (How much space do we have, do we give? I keep tripping! Where should I put my hands?) In Valproto I got locked inside our house when I was trying to go to work. Pregnant in Arizona, I struggled hormonally with the big tangled outdoor drying rack and called animal control for a harmless snake. On Kadena I mangled my feet on those accursed metal-rimmed stairs. In Yomitan I was trying out a second-story window at sunrise when it jerked open, sending an unsuspecting lizard to its death below (I love the smell of splatted gecko in the morning!).
At first it's fun, but soon it's just annoying: fumbling through the door locking procedure, tripping over the dishwasher door, pushing the wrong buttons on the microwave and getting freaked out by the gas oven, bonking heads on that light fixture, trying to decide where to hang each bath towel, opening the laundry closet door into the whirling ceiling fan because yeah, it's that crowded in here.
And there are the iffy surprises, the inevitable results of a beggars-can't-be-choosers location and very jetlagged house viewing: the twitch-inducing asymmetry of the master bedroom, the comically loud creakiness of the spiral stairs and wooden floor, the way both outside doors pop open if they're not deadbolted, the luscious but overgrown maple that we have to cowtow to on the way to our car, the last tenant's pyramids of pet hair in the corners, the teeny tininess of the washer & dryer.
There are good surprises too: the neighbors are nice, the sound of rain on the skylight is cozy and the tiny loads that come out of the dryer are oh-so-foldable. Space is used efficiently. The spiral staircase no longer gives me vertigo, and the tiny kitchen doesn't drive me crazy. On the back patio there's a rose bush that burst into bloom for Mother's Day, and to Eva's delight, gray catbirds, robins, and squirrels come calling often. And the neighborhood--oh, the neighborhood!--but I'll gush about that on another day.
Our shipment from Japan hasn't even arrived yet, but today we had to decide where we want to move next. It makes my head spin how fast we'll pick up and go again. And part of me says Don't mess it up, this "new" house that isn't ours! And part of me already loves the many small knicks, scratches, wears, tears, and floor-treadings that will say We were here, this spot was ours for that year.