Monday, July 8, 2013

Where I've lived

I've been pondering (now that I'm six and a half more decades into this life) where I've lived. I took some time and made a list.

1) I lived the first 18 years of my life in a two bedroom apartment over Barney Yates grocery store on the main street (almost the only street!) in Anawalt, West Virginia (pop. 400) until Barney closed his store about the time I was 13. After that, winter's were colder since there was no central heat and the heat from Barney's stoves--2 of them I remember--rose and made our apartment warmer. There was a back porch some 30 feet above the ground that used to terrify me because my cousin Marlin used to love getting outside the railing and walking around out there.

2) I lived one year in Arthur I. Boreman Hall, a freshman dorm in the midst of the downtown campus of West Virginia University. I lived there with Mike Lawless, my friend from high school.

3) I lived one year at (get this) 69 Richwood Avenue in Morgantown with three roommates--Mike Lawless who was there the first semester and Mike Miano (another high school friend) who was there second semester since both Mike's were Mining Engineer students and had one semester on and one off to work for a coal company. Our other roommate was Doc Likens, who one of the Mike's knew, who was from Summersville and a total slob.

4) The next year I lived in a room at 75 Richwood Avenue and my high school--lifetime long friend--Jo-jo Tagnesi lived in another room there and we shared a bathroom. The old woman who owned the house, whose name I do not remember, was happy to have two 'boys' who were quiet and studious, except when Jo-jo's mother would mail him a roast chicken and a holiday would fall in between when she mailed it and we got it and the whole house would smell for days.

5) My last year of college I lived in a dorm whose name I don't remember being a dorm monitor for Freshman who had gotten in at the last minute. It was a horrible job but I endured it since it was free room and board.

*Just to be transparent, my parents bought a house (for cash!) in Princeton, West Virginia, a town of 20,000 or so, when I was a freshman in college. So I lived there each summer of my college life except for after my Junior year when I was a camp counselor in a camp in Logan County, West Virginia.

6) I lived in Divinity Hall on Kirkland Street in Cambridge, MA in the academic year 1969-70. I met Dan Kiger, one of the best friends I've ever had, in Divinity Hall. I haven't seen him for a couple of decades, but if we met, I would imagine we'd take right up where we left off.

7) My second year in Cambridge, I lived on Kirkland Street, in an apartment next to a Jewish Deli, just 20 yards or so from Sommerville. It was the last habitation before Cambridge turned into Sommerville. Bern and I lived there the first year of our marriage. It was not easy, let me tell you. I was completing a master's degree at Harvard Divinity School and she was going to Northeastern University and I was 23 and she was 20 and we had no idea whatsoever of what being married was about.....

8) I almost forgot the year we lived in a trailor....Bern and I. Out near the Med School in Morgantown where we'd moved so she could finish her degree in drama and I could teach school, having qualified through the National Teacher's Exam while still in Cambridge. (Dan Kiger helped us move and gave us $75 when he drove back to Ohio. We needed it.) However, when they saw my shoulder length hair and huge beard, they lost my file and I didn't have a teaching job. We went on food stamps and I found a job at the Public TV station in Morgantown (located beside the morgue of the Med School) as a cameraman and made so little money we still qualified for food stamps and had an incident trying to get my food stamps and the head of the Welfare Department told me to take the Social Service test, which I did, and being good at tests, if nothing else, became a social worker.

9) Bern and I moved to Forrest Avenue and it was there I was convinced by a Saint named Miriah to go back to Seminary. I stayed on at Forrest Avenue for 9 months or so, while Bern moved to New York and acted in several off-Broadway shows.

10) We reunited in Alexandria, on Kenmore Street in a Garden Apartment for two years until I graduated from VTS and was ordained. Bern did dinner theatre and waited tables to support us.

11) We lived on Richwood Avenue in Charleston WV for 5  years while I was Vicar of St. James, Charleston and Episcopal Chaplain to West Virginia State College. My first year I earned $14,000, which was enough to live well in Charleston in 1975. Both our remarkable children were born in Charleston. If for no other reason, the five years there were some of the best of my life....

12) I was elected Rector of St. Paul's in New Haven, CT and we lived at 612 Chapel Street until I went a bit crazy and Bern and I separated.

13) For almost a year I lived in an apartment down by the water in New Haven and Bern and the kids lived in an apartment up on the hill near the Divinity School.

14) When our relationship was transformed, we moved to Everitt Street in a wondrous rented house with a cat attached. We lived there until June 1989 when I was called to be Rector of St. John's in Waterbury.

15) Then we moved to 95 Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire where we've been ever since and I hope to be until I die. We've lived here for 24 years, longer than I've lived anywhere, long enough to launch our children into live beyond us, long enough to realize this might be the best years of our lives, long enough to know ever inch of this house and love each one, long enough to know we are, after all these wild and wondrous years--Home at last....

(Reviewing: I lived 30 years in West Virginia, 2 years in Cambridge, 2 years in Alexandria and all the rest, 32 years in Connecticut. 32 years below the Mason-Dixon Line and 34 years in New England. Got that?)

I have pondered so many things reviewing the places I've lived and discovered so much, that if I weren't too humble to suggest it, I would suggest you take pen and paper and make a list of everywhere you've lived and ponder what it all means and what you learn by doing that exercise. I would recommend it, really....half an hour to remember where you 'come from' might just tell you multitudes about the Past and open up some possibilities about the Future.

Just me talkin'.....But ponder it. I encourage that pondering......

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.