Glenrose (Kalamazoo, MI)
Technically my third home, but my memories begin here. I was two. It was my grandparents’ house, and we stayed for the summer while Dad looked for a job. I remember the pink room and the fireflies. The pink room at the top of the stairs, my bedroom and toy room. The fireflies. In the backyard at twilight with Grandpa Ed, catching fireflies in a jar. Later I would learn the word bioluminescence. Then I only knew wonder.
House Blaine, Pt. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI)
We planted a sapling along the side of the house. Already a namer, I called it “Goldy,” for the delicious apples it was said to bear. Everywhere there were nooks of mystery, like the paint closet in the basement where the cats hid, and the space behind the piano in the corner of the front room. A toy carelessly dropped back there was lost forever.
Sunnycreek (Kentwood, MI)
I discovered several things here, such as that I had a body, and that Kentwood was farther than most people cared to drive. There were rectangles everywhere, and there was too much space and too few trees. I pretended to practice bassoon in the basement while I quietly watched TV. I was 18 when I left, although I spent a few summers and a gap year back. When my parents finally sold it, I didn’t miss it much.
207 Beets (Grand Rapids, MI)
Hardly more than a glorified closet, but we still found ways to dance. Gabe’s audio system took over most of his desk and blasted the dorm with Muse, Hall & Oats, and Passion Pit at obscene hours. I suppose the whole of campus was really our home, though our address didn’t say so. Like Truman’s dome, the world seemed to simply end just beyond Burton and the East Beltline.
House Blaine, Pt. 2
After we moved out in 2003, Dad kept the place as a rental. We were his last tenants, Jackson and Jake and Gabe and I. An odd return. As a twenty-something, I slept in what had been previously my parents’ bedroom, on a stiff twin bed under a ceiling fan that rattled obnoxiously. The apple tree, now unruly, produced bag after bag full of small tart apples. We tried to turn them into cider, but got vinegar.
Three Fountains (Minneapolis, MN)
Allegedly there were three of them, though I never found one. Jackson and I thought ourselves a regular Joey and Chandler, in our bachelor pad with a hallway that smelled like sweat and weed. The cupboards were sticky and the bathroom door occasionally locked you in, but the west-facing windows caught the afternoon light in a soft way as I did grad school readings. Young adulthood distilled.
The Kapartment/La Casa (Minneapolis, MN)
“You’ll get used to the noise.” The apartment on bustling Lake Street felt like the center of everything. A sort of revolving door, which several of our friends had already moved into and out of. There was a great kitchen, and abysmal parking. When Sarah moved in, we tried to rename it La Casa de los Osos, because she spoke Spanish and I liked bears. We tried.
The Attic (Saint Paul, MN)
It’s still my first week here, and my first home distinctly my own. The tiny upstairs unit of an old house; it bears marks of retrofitting from several decades. A cross section of home improvement. I suppose “Attic” is a fitting name as I unpack boxes full of nostalgia. Mementos of past people, past homes. I’ll hold them gently in reverence, and then shuffle them back away. Unseen but not forgotten.