i moved to Somerville after graduating college in 1995. i had been a country girl growing up, and although as an adult i wanted to live in the city, i wasn't quite comfortable in the Big City of Boston. somerville had all of the conveniences of a city, while still having some green space and more of a small-town-feel community. my first apartment was on Highland Ave, right next to the fire station, and in less than a year i moved one building up the street. when my dad offered me help with a down payment, the Casa was the result. it was the third place i lived on the same street, but this one was mine.
i fell in love with my house at first sight, in a way i think you only can with your first house. i picked it out with my friend Jade, and she remained my roommate for years, until it was time for her to move out, and move on, with her boyfriend (now her husband). over the years i had many roommates, and many tenants, and there are a couple of dozen people out there who once called Casa Highland home. each set of people was it's own little family for me. i was lucky to have a house that i loved, and to live with people that i loved.
but about a year and a half ago, i realized it was time to move on.
the conveniences of the city, which once lured me in, were now no longer quite so sparkly. more and more of my life was happening outside of the city. shayne moved out, kathryn was moving on to graduate school, and it became time to think about my next steps. the house that i once loved so fiercely was now just a monetary obligation that was more of a touch-down pad to sleep and shower than it was a home. my boyfriend, my family, my friends, and my job, all lured me out of the city and out of my house on a frequent basis.
deciding to part with the house was a surprisingly difficult decision to me, and yet once i made it, the rest was easy. i sold it instantly, realizing the new owner could afford to make all of the updates to the house i never had time or money for. i got a huge dumpster and emptied the house out. hired movers and moved out in a late winter snow storm last year.
for me, moving out and moving on, also meant moving home. i have always been a country mouse at heart, not a city mouse, and my mothers huge 2-family antique farmhouse had an open apartment. it was a touch down pad while i planned my next move. and the first night i slept in my new apartment, i felt like i was home. my country life is peppered with wildlife sightings, and mouse problems, and bugs, and i can go on my back porch at night and gaze at all the stars in the sky. i am happy here.
but again, my next move beckons, as Ned and i look for a place of our own. these houses are just stages. they are each a home, each a family, and each a different part of a life that feels truly blessed.
these shells that we wrap around ourselves can be big or small, shiny or plain, some are crenellated with decorations, and some can be as dull as an old tin can. but if we are lucky, they cover us and keep us safe and give us room to grow. i am thankful for the shelter they have given, for the families they have housed, and for the opportunities that they have each granted.
it seems odd to keep a blog (or a flickr account, or a twitter account, etc.) named Casa Highland, when the Casa has since been sold and flipped for condos and is no longer recognizable. but i think i carry the best of the Casa around with me. i hope that all of her previous occupants do, too.
in many ways, any place i live is Casa Highland. she is the old shell i carry in my pocket for good luck, and she reminds me where i came from.