Nine years ago today, I moved into The Place Where I Hang My Hats. And that’s the longest time I’ve ever spent in one place, believe it or not. Nine years.
In two weeks and I’ll be 49 1/2 years old (the toddler in me still appreciates that) and I’ve lived under 31 different roofs in that time. And, it’s fair to say, it’s taught me this: Man, I hate moving.
As I laid in bed last night “wow’d” by the fact that it had been nine years, I started thinking about all the places I had lived and the trail of memories that I’ve left behind at each and every place.
The fact I’ve been here, in the 203, in the Land of Fairfield County, Connecticut, for nine years was equally as staggering. I’ve lived here, in the space above this two-car barn, for almost a decade. Come another 365 days, it will be.
The first weekend I was here I went grocery shopping at the local Stop and Shop and thought I recognized this 10-year-old kid walking in the same aisle as me.
It was my landlord’s son, whom I had just met that weekend.
Today, he is a sophomore in college.
That’s why I thought today — nine years after I moved here — would be a good day to reflect on all the places I have called home.
1 — Charleston, Maine
OK, so I didn’t technically live here. This is where I was born — Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. It was May 8, the year before the Summer of Love.
Sadly, I don’t remember much about the first Summer of Love, just like I don’t remember anything about the first place I called home. All I know is it was in Charleston, Maine, and that’s a smaller town than Dover-Foxcroft, which at least, thankfully, had its own hospital.
2 — East Street, Bangor, Maine
We moved to East Street in Bangor when I was just a baby and I don’t remember anything about that place, either. I do remember what the building looked like when I lived in Bangor during my 20s and 30s, but a search of Google Earth shows what looks like newer houses along that stretch of the street.
So, I’m guessing, my former baby abode has gone way of the wrecking ball.
3 — Chamberlain Street, Brewer, Maine
Now it’s coming back to me. I was probably around the age of three or four when we lived on Chamberlain Street in Brewer, which might I add was named after Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain.
I vaguely draw back on memories from here. I remember making snowmen outside during the winters and I remember receiving a drum set for Christmas in this very home, which I’m sure pleased our neighbors a bunch. (Or maybe I just remember the pictures from this apartment, which are now embedded into my mind as memories).
Music never took, though, since I had no musical ability whatsoever. I suppose given my writing abilities I could have become a lyricist, but I can’t carry a tune down the block.
Yet somehow I fell in love with hearing music and maybe that started right here since it was still the 1960s and my parents were English and they must have listened to the Beatles.
So there it is: I was influenced by the Beatles. I said it.
4 — River Road, Orrington, Maine
Now we’re getting somewhere. This is the home where I grew up, where we lived from when I was four years old until, I believe, around seventh grade.
My bedroom was the window right above the door, upstairs to the left. It also had the door to the attic, which freaked me out a bit every time there was a noise coming from the other side.
If I remember right, my dresser is what kept me safe from the monsters in the attic.
Oh the things I remember about this house.
The garage is different now. It’s huge. Previously, there was a little two-car garage there, built low enough so we could jump off the roof into the backyard.
And there was so much yardage. Look at all that green.
It was while living here that I learned to explore and started realizing the world was bigger than just my yard. There were woods out back that held the secrets of old junked cars, slowly being hidden by the growth of the underbrush.
Across the street was a cemetery and what young boy wouldn’t risk being scared shitless by exploring that graveyard of secrets.
And, yes, I remember kicking in the basement windows, beginning my long streak of window-breaking days, and I remember me and some friends being caught red-handed “exploring” the apartment of the old lady who lived in the back. (Some people would probably call it breaking and entering, but since we were probably 10 or 11 exploring sounds much more acceptable and thrilling).
This picture was taken from the Masonic Hall, a big two story brick building which allowed us a place to ride our bikes and throw balls up against a brick wall while getting to pretend I was playing second base for the 1975 Boston Red Sox, knowing I would have helped us win that World Series despite the best efforts of Ed Armbrister and Larry Barnett, that God-damned umpire. (Sorry, during flashbacks I forget the fact we’re three-time World Series champions in the 21st Century).
Down the road just a quarter mile from here lived the two brothers that became my brothers — Jody and Robbie Norton.
To me, for as long as I’ll live, this is the one place I will always look back on and feel like I was truly at home.
But there are sad memories, too.
A house across the street was struck by lightning and caught fire, and is probably the No. 1 reason today why i still hate thunder and lightning storms.
It’s also here where I found out that divorce is a bitch, yet life goes on.
5 — Center Drive, Orrington, Maine
After my parents divorce, my mother was remarried to my step-father and we moved into this house on Center Drive. It was brand-spanking new and while it didn’t have the yardage the previous house had, it was just a 100 yard walk to the Center Drive School, my middle school which had baseball fields, basketball courts, the town’s library and more.
It was a three-bedroom place, split level, and once upon a time there were five kids living there in a poor reprise of the Brady Bunch, sans TV cameras and bad acting, of course.
It’s not a wonder I literally put my step-brothers ass through a wall one day. (Long story, but it made a perfect butt-print impression and did turn a intense family spat into giggling fits of laughter) at least between me and my step-brother. Our parents weren’t too pleased, if I remember right.
I spent my high school years here, as well, and came and went as I moved into one apartment, moved back in with my parents, moved out to get married and have a kid, and I actually moved back in for a few months to save money for my move to New Hampshire.
I was 30. Not proud of that one, but sometimes in life you have to do what you have to do.
6 — Hammond Street, Bangor, Maine
You never forget your first apartment and I certainly don’t.
I was 18 years old and I moved in with my high school friend Scott Johnson and his girlfriend, whose name is now escaping me, but she did end up being the mother of his child.
We lived on the first floor and it wasn’t really a party house.
We came and went and enjoyed our freedom and worked to pay the rent.
I don’t even remember why we moved out, but I’m pretty sure we lived there less than a year.
7 — Columbia Street, Bangor, Maine
If these walls could talk.
After Hammond Street, I moved back home for a while until deciding to move in with Mark St. Germain, a former high school rival (over a girl, believe it or not) who turned into one of my best friends and a sports-loving nut, as well.
This apartment building was located right smack dab in downtown Bangor and has plenty of memories soaked into our third-floor apartment.
We worked hard to afford the place and partied even harder to enjoy the place.
See the patio on the top floor, above the canopy? We once stood up there, looking down over the back entrance of the Bangor Opera House and had an on-going conversation with ‘Til Tuesday lead singer Aimee Mann, who had just performed there.
We tried to convince her to come up for a drink, but she opted not to. We did find out that night, though, that “Voices Carry.” (Bad joke, sorry).
One of the biggest memories — yet one of the most heartbreaking, as well — was Mark and I watching Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, jumping up and down and hugging each other as the Red Sox closed in on their first World Series championship.
Then came Rich Gedman’s passed ball (fuck you, Gedman; you know you should have caught Bob Stanley’s pitch) and Bill Buckner.
The rest is history.
Yeah, the 21st Century couldn’t come fast enough.
8 — Hancock Street, Bangor, Maine
Oh my, The Terraces.
This was THE PARTY HOUSE of 1987 — our own Summer of Love, 20 years later.
The stories I could tell from this building.
And I would get into them because I promised I would use this spot to be honest and open, but there are certain things our mothers shouldn’t know, so while mine is still alive and kicking and spending the kids’ inheritance (private joke there; Love ya, Ma.) most stories have to go unsaid.
See the window on the left, first floor?
That was our front door. It was always a window, but our friends would park in the parking lot, climb the stairs and instead of going to the door in the rear of the building, they’d just climb through the window.
And there was a revolving doors of friends coming and going.
Everybody was welcome.
Here are two stories I can tell that still make me laugh and have nothing to do with the booze that flowed (Two Fingers Tequila) and the drugs that were done (Aspirin, of course…) there.
Both involve our cars.
One day while walking by the window to the right I looked out into the intersection and saw my roommate’s car sitting in the middle of the road as he was sitting on the couch.
Some how it had popped out of gear and rolled out of the parking lot into the street, thankfully not striking anything or anybody.
Then there was the time I left the building, walked in front of my car and found my wipers going.
“Damn,” I thought to myself, “I left my wipers going.”
As I put my key in the car door it dawned on me. Why the hell were my wipers even going?
Pretty soon the smoke and flame from the electric fire in my engine was evident.
Oh, the memories.
9 — Langley Street, Bangor Maine.
Growing up, Capehart was a scary place. People called it “The Ghetto” of Bangor as if anybody in Bangor, Maine, truly knew what a ghetto was.
There was new Capehart and there was old Capehart and while it was once built as housing for the servicemen who called the Dow Air Force Base home, it soon became a cheap place to live in the city.
Four of us lived in this apartment building and while it was tame in comparison to the party house of Hancock Street, it also proved to be a place where major changes would come to form my life.
This is where I was living with I met the woman who would become my ex-wife.
10 — Broadway, Bangor, Maine
When I decided to get married it was in this building that me and my future bride, Amy, would first live.
We had the bottom floor apartment and in the first week we lived there we had the fire department visit and Cablevision pulled all of its advertising from the newspaper I was working because I wrote a column about their devious ways of giving you a six-hour window and when you take a 5-minute shower and they show up, you have to reschedule for two weeks later.
(As for the fire department, we didn’t realize fireplaces had a flue … live and learn, right?)
I asked for Amy’s hand in marriage in this building.
11 — Main Street, Old Town, Maine
When Amy and I were married, we were living in the second floor of this building in Old Town, Maine.
Old Town was a mill town so we knew when it was going to rain because 24 hours before the Heavens opened up, the town literally smelled. It was the best weather forecasting model ever.
Amy’s sister lived in this apartment before us and when she moved out, we moved in.
She was paying only $250 a month and we were shocked when we moved in to find the rent was still the same — easily half of which the apartment could have gone for under current market value.
An older couple owned the building, though, and that’s all they charged.
We weren’t about to say no, not so soon after saying, “I do.”
12 — Windsor Place, Bangor, Maine
The ride from Old Town to Bangor was approximately 16 miles long, which after a couple of years was wearing on both of us, so we moved back to Bangor and found this little two-bedroom apartment in Bangor. (Ours was the third door on the right).
It was a thin little apartment, smushed between two other thin little apartments and quickly became too small for a family that would soon be growing.
13 — Essex Street, Bangor, Maine
Of all the places I’ve lived, this is the one where people almost lost their life and Amy and I could have gone to jail.
We had moved in, signing a month-to-month lease (first warning sign) and everything was just fine and dandy until we went to war in Iraq. (The first time, mind you).
We weren’t even there three weeks when our piece-of-shit lords (can’t call them landlords because they’re lower than landlords) jacked up our rent by almost $300 a month, citing concerns about oil prices rising.
It got so bitter and angry that this idiot couple would blast music super loud in an effort to annoy us and we’d just call the police to tell them to shut off the music.
If I could even come close to remembering the POS’s who owned this building and were to come across them in a dark alley, I’d still punch him in the nose … that’s how angry I still am all these years later.
14 — Elm Street, Bangor, Maine (Part 1)
Funny story about 17 Elm Street in Bangor, Maine.
After our fiasco on Essex Street, Amy and I moved into the back-side first floor apartment of this four-apartment unit. Little did I know then that I’d end up living in three of the four apartments before I left Bangor behind for good.
But I digress.
This was a lovely apartment for us. Don’t mean to put this imagery in your mind, but it was in this building — which used to be blue and had an open porch on the right, behind where the tree stands — that we conceived our son. (Either it was here, or in a tent en route to Toronto!).
Once we were with child, though, we knew we’d have to be moving on to something bigger so we bought our house.
It was the only time in my life I’d be a “homeowner.”
15 — Highland Court, Bangor, Maine
Would you believe we were neighbors with best-selling author Stephen King when we bought this house?
True story. He lived about 200 yards down the road, but it was a world away financially.
Union Street separated Highland Court from West Broadway. Highland Court was working class. West Broadway was Bangor’s “Upper East Side” — to coin a New York City term.
This was the house we bought to start our family and for Amy to start her business, a Montessori School, which took up the first floor on the building while we lived up stairs.
The two things I always say about my ex-wife that I believe are as true today as they were back then: She was a good mother and a good preschool teacher.
It was here, however, that I also was reminded that divorce is a bitch. And that can lead to the biggest mistakes of your life.
16 — Lincoln Street, Bangor, Maine
Post-divorce, I was back with Mark St. Germain and his friend, Tim, and we lived in the second story of this apartment building.
I could walk to work (which was just 150 yards away) and I could walk to the Bounty Tavern, our drinking place of choice, where we could also get drunk — and boy did we — and walk home, sometimes with a female friend (or stranger) alongside us.
With a little boy to look over, though, living with two other single guys and having alcohol become a big part of your life again wasn’t adding up.
The little boy had shared my bed one night and I woke up after a nightmare, certain I had squished him in our sleep.
It was time for another two bedroom apartment, so he could have his own room.
Thus it was time to move on again.
17 — Palm Street, Bangor, Maine
See the windows at the very top? That was my third floor apartment and it was here that my life began unravelling for the first time.
Post-divorce drinking is something I don’t recommend to anybody.
On weekends when I didn’t have the boy, I was chugging them down — rum and Coke s and Xanax. Whatever worked to kill the pain, you know?
I was living here, struggling with post-divorce woes and the sudden loss of my job when one night I found myself hospitalized because a milk carton full of rum and coke and five Xanax didn’t mix too well.
I had to drink that charcoal stuff they give you at the hospital to sober you up and the doctor asked me why I tried to kill myself.
I told him if I was trying to kill myself I had about 20 more Xanax pills back at the house I would have taken.
Killing the pain and killing yourself are two vastly different things.
This wasn’t the bottom, but it was close.
18 — U.S. Route 2, Bangor, Maine
I remember shortly after my parents own divorce my father was living in a hotel for a time, one of those pay-weekly joints.
After falling three months behind on my rent on Palm Street (money from unemployment was going for food and drink … the wrong kind of drink, unfortunately), I was one step from being homeless.
No job. No home. I even lost my car, which had been repossessed due to lack of payments.
Life was not good, outside of one very special “Angel” who I woke up every day to see, knowing it would get me through another day.
However, it was out of this hotel room (the second floor, Room 20) where I started to rebuild my life.
I would either walk from here (or take a bus) to my sister’s work where she allowed me to borrow her car so I could deliver pizzas during the lunch rush.
That allowed me to build up some cash so I could buy a car from one of those weekly places.
I was paying for my apartment weekly. I was paying for my car weekly.
But the darkness in my life was starting to lighten.
I went from delivering pizzas to working as a waiter at a Pizza Hut. From there, I was able to take the step to move back into my own apartment.
19 — Otis Street, Bangor, Maine
Sometimes you need to take two steps backward to take one step forward and that’s what I did when I lived in this apartment (top left) for approximately two months.
Knowing I wanted to get the hell out of my hotel room, a co-worker set me up with a friend of hers who was looking for a roommate.
It was a disaster.
Never move in with a stranger was the lesson I learned.
It would be a lesson I would try again to much different results just a few years down the line.
20 & 21 — Elm Street, Bangor, Maine (Parts 2 and 3)
Remember this place? I sure do.
I had lived here shortly after getting married, conceived my son here (if not en route to Toronto), yada, yada, yada.
One day while driving by I noticed a for-rent sign in the front window, which I knew was a studio apartment across the hall from where I had once lived.
I called the landlord, who remembered me, and I was able to move in.
From there, I was able to move upstairs into a one-bedroom apartment.
My life was starting to feel as though it was returning to some semblance of normalcy.
22 — The Granadas, Ohio St., Bangor
When the landlord who I knew so well sold his apartment building, the new landlord jacked up the price.
So I moved out on him, much to his chagrin.
And this is where I moved.
My neighbors across the hall were an elderly couple who were really cool and a young mom of two kids and we all got along well together.
It was a nice play to live, but little did I know a job change would spring me toward an adventure I never imagined undertaking.
23 — Upper Dedham Rd., Dedham, Maine
Couldn’t find a photo of this place because it was tucked into the woods of a tiny little town about 15 miles outside of Bangor. I moved here because I had gotten a job in Ellsworth, Maine, working for a weekly newspaper and needed to move closer.
Little did I know everything would be so short lived, however, as a friend of mine talked about moving to New Hampshire and she wanted a roommate so she wouldn’t be alone.
In my quest to start over, I jumped on board.
I lined up a job and was ready to go, at least until she backed back out and opted to stay home.
I went anyway, moving to New Hampshire with just me, myself, and I.
24. Henry Law Ave., Dover, N.H.
Cricket Brook Apartments. It was a gorgeous place to live (bottom floor, second door from right) and I would have stayed longer had life not thrown a curve ball at me.
When I moved to New Hampshire, I had gotten a job as the full-time substitute teacher at Oyster River High School in Durham, N.H., where I was also on staff with the girls basketball program.
Upon arrival, however, the ORHS teachers were in the process of under going union negotiations with the school department and were told not to call in sick and give any reasons for the school board to fight back.
That meant no work for me and I quickly fell behind on my bills.
I started doing some freelance work for a local newspaper, but it still wasn’t enough to pay the bills so I needed to take on another roommate.
I was in a state full of strangers, so I’d have to move in with somebody I didn’t know again.
25 — Locust Street, Dover, N.H.
This building was a dark maroon when Monique and I moved in.
Monique was a total stranger to me when we first met at a little coffee shop in Dover. She was from Manchester and was looking for a place to live, and I needed a roommate.
So we did it. (No, not that). We moved in together in a strictly platonic fashion and soon we’d be hanging out at a local bar, making some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.
We got screwed out of our security deposits by landlords who lived upstairs, but I’ve come to expect that by the 25th time I had moved.
She ended up dating my friend Danny and when her and Danny broke up, he got me in the end and I moved in with him.
26 — Route 108, Somersworth, N.H.
I’ve lived in two party houses in my life.
The first one was definitely Hancock Street, back in Bangor, Maine, when I was 21 and 22.
This was the second and while many good times happened in this little house tucked away just off Route 108 in Somersworth, N.H., it also had it’s share of demons … tiny little demons that would grab hold of you and never let go.
Trust me, I got grabbed and recognized right away the hold it had on me.
Despite all the good times and great memories that were had, I knew I had to get out or else I might never escape.
27 — Jamey Drive, Rochester, N.H.
The demons of Somersworth were mostly left behind when I moved in here with a friend and her family.
Her oldest daughter had moved to Michigan and I was able to move in to her room and help the family out a little bit financially, as well.
While I was able to move myself away from one addiction, however, I discovered another while living here.
Far more healthy, for sure.
28 — Charles Street, Rochester, NH
A friend’s referral led me to the third floor of this apartment building.
When she lived there, I could have totally taken advantage of her one night in a drunken stupor but I played the perfect gentlemen.
So much for karma.
When I first moved in, the neighbors were great and friendly.
Those on the second floor, however, almost turned my life into a living nightmare.
Fortunately a job opportunity back in my home state — coupled with the second floor family’s dastardly past — allowed me to get on with my life unscathed.
29 — Briarwood Drive, Biddeford, Maine
Moving back to Maine to work for a newspaper was a good thing for a while.
Living in a coastal town in Maine is costly (this two-bedroom apartment was costing me $925 a month) but for two years it was an expensive home that allowed me to focus on work and little else.
One more move short-lived move, however, would lead me directly to the future again.
30 — Vine Street. Biddeford, Maine
Another short-lived tenure at this building as another job change would come swiftly and suddenly.
This time, though, I would be leaving my native Maine — perhaps for good — and not looking back.
In fact, I’ve only been “home” four times since I left the state.
31 — 260 Washington Pkwy, Stratford, CT.
Which brings us back to one … Well, thirty-one, that is.
Nine years ago today, this is where I moved too and I’ve been here ever since.
Longer than any of the other homes you’ve seen if you’ve made it this far down through a pictorial journey through my life via the places where I’ve lived.
It’s brought back some memories, both good and bad.
Yet I’ll be honest. This doesn’t feel like home.
Home is family. Home is friends.
This is just where I live as I get deeper into the October Weekend of my life.
I just hope I’m not going to No. 32 anytime soon.
I hate moving.