There was four and three hundred sixty-four and eleven and ten and twenty-one and seventy-four and two hundred sixty-four and thirty-six and eighty-seven; eighteen bathrooms; twenty-seven bedrooms; nine first month’s rent payments; nine security deposits; three encounters of homelessness.
I haven’t had the most conventional housing, but they were all home to me. Four was my first home with comforting, pink blankets and constant lullabies. Three hundred sixty-four had cookies and milk waiting for Santa’s descent down the chimney. Eleven had the best Halloween trick-or-treat runs. Ten had the scary rooster of a neighbor that begged to be on our porch. Twenty-one had the backyard that flooded with the slightest bit of rain. Seventy-four sheltered the best eighth grade hangout sessions. Two hundred sixty-four had the most beautiful sunsets. Thirty-six had the craziest next door neighbor that thought three a.m. was the perfect time for a run. Howard Johnson inn had the sweetest maids that were like a second set of mothers. Eighty-seven is home.
It was by no means easy to constantly move my life across the county nor was it easy to say goodbye to another home. I threw fits and shouted and cried and thought, “Why me?” like a total drama queen, but I didn’t stop living my life. I started junior year taking some of the most challenging classes I had ever taken whilst commuting from a motel four towns over. I did my homework in motel lobbies after helping my sister with her own homework. I found ways to photograph twenty-four self-portraits and annotate chapters one through ten of The Scarlet Letter and conjugate ser and estar and take notes on chapters one and two of The American Pageant and solve for x and finish that physics lab and somehow still find time to sleep.
Eighty-seven is my favorite. It’s peach and warm. It always smells like winter even in the midst of July. There’s a little burial plot in the front yard. Neighborhood dogs corner us on all fronts. Spiders have taken the laundry room hostage. The backyard shed frees itself from its lock. The woman living downstairs has the cutest smile. The mailman makes his rounds at two forty-four on the dot every day. All through the winter, turkeys take shelter in our yard. There’s the caterpillar dubbed Fred that made a visit in the driveway one September afternoon and has yet to make his second debut.
It was fourth period photography that I learned about eight-seven. My mom texted me, “I got key” with a key emoji. In the dead of winter, we slept on the floor with those five dollar blankets from Target. We were cold, but also the warmest we had ever been in a long time. Eighty-seven is home.