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5:43 p.m. - 2013-10-30
A Thoroughly Domesticated Animal

FB has been extraordinarily chatty recently. I like it. Sometimes it feels like FB is a big playground where all the kids are shouting, "Mom! Look at me! Look, Mom, look!" And there are no moms, just kids demanding attention and showing off their latest moves. At those times FB is a place to talk AT people, not WITH them. Lately though, at least with my small gang o' friends, there are actual conversations. Call and response, and response and response and response. I mean what I say too about my gang being small. Miniscule by FB standards. I know every single person on my friends list, if not always in person then at least long enough online to have grown into real friends. I never did the fractal friend thing agreeing to any and every friend request and hitting up all my friends' friends to add me to their lists. I'm not saying that's wrong, it's just wrong for me. Even the wild and wooly internet is a personal space the way I prefer to use it. I'm a nester and make a 'home' everywhere I go.

Heh. During the summer after 5th grade our apartment complex was expanded with two more buildings. A big cul-de-sac was carved out of the weedy woods behind our 4-plex and the hillside dug into and flattened enough to install another 16 apartments broken into two buildings that faced each other across the newly paved parking lot. This was exciting stuff! Instead of cans at the curb we now had a dumpster (which my friends and I played in the day it was delivered, hey, it was clean and brand-new) and our mail went into one of these. Now along with our apartment key I had a mailbox key to keep track of. I didn't mind, I was fascinated by the new mailbox and thought the postman was very clever to keep track of all those keys. It took about a year before I found out the back of the mailbox unlocked and slid up like a garage door and the postman had access to all the boxes at once. Duh. Before that I honestly believed he opened each box individually, each with its own special key. For a smart person I have some gaping holes in my common sense. Anyhow, the new buildings brought all kinds of good stuff my way. Best of all my best friends, Lisa and Laura, moved with their mom from a duplex down at the end of the street and into one of the new units. Their new place had direct line of sight between my bedroom window and Lisa and Laura's. The window thing meant we could blink messages with flashlights at night and during the day we hung different sheets of construction paper- each color had its own meaning. We were very into playing 'spies' that year and along with the bedroom window thing and tons of coded notes being passed between us at school we'd discovered you could call pay phones! Coolest. Thing. Ever. One of us would dial from home while the other two waited in the phone booth outside the post office for instructions about the next mission. (Btw, phone calls were dime back then unless you were calling a number in town, those only cost a nickel. And yes I realize that a few of you don't remember phone booths at all, at least not the big glass box with the folding door and the phone book hanging on a chain.)

Now every spy organization worth its salt needed a secret headquarters and ours was no exception. Here's where the new construction paid off with another bonanza. For some odd reason the construction crew left a weird pit dug into the ground. The pit was about four feet deep. It was triangle shaped with an old growth tree in each corner. They'd shored up this pit with warped splintery planks full of knotholes. To this day I have no idea why they did it or what it was supposed to be for, but that sunken pit made one hella good spy headquarters. We roofed it over with scavenged sheets of plywood and a chunk of that wavy translucent plastic they made carport roofs out of and thanks to that plastic piece our subterranean spy headquarters wasn't completely dark inside. Lisa and Laura were cool with our place as it was, but remember what I said about being a nester? I wasn't about to sit on damp dirt in a gloomy hole in the ground. I set about furnishing our new spy home and did a fine job. The construction scrap pile yielded some great stuff. Linoleum scraps to make a patchwork floor. An honest-to-Godfrey wire spool to use as a table. (Calling all children of the 60s and 70s!) My friends got into the spirit of the thing and we went on scrounging missions all over town. Curb shopping sofa cushions, a standing ashtray (none of us smoked) and a real telephone. Again, back in the day the phones belonged to the telephone company and finding one to take with us was a real coup. Of course it wasn't hooked up to anything but it made a fine pretend 'hot line'.

Our spy pit was the last of our childhood forts and it was the best.

This ability to furnish my spaces with scraps and serendipitous finds has served me well. For certain it made the first few places the ex and I lived seem less than the roach infested hellholes they were and more like real homes. Though to be honest, Mike and I had compatible eccentricities and our abodes were closer to my childhood spy pit than places where real grown-ups lived. The ex and I thought skulls, hubcaps, license plates, and stolen road signs to be the finest of wall decor and we were married for almost 10 years before we bought an actual piece of furniture- a kitchen table, which of course we surrounded with chairs stolen from a defunct diner. And we were married almost 12 years before we owned an actual couch. 'Throw Out Your Big Garbage Week' was better than Christmas to us. For many years our 'headboard' was a light-up display case from the Yum-Yum ice cream company which we'd filled with fossils, seashells, and miniature souvenir totem poles from the 1950s.

Even the summer we spent on the road in our little green school bus with Baby Wolf and Alex the GameBoy addict our place was a rolling home. Every night when we decided to stop the first things we did were put the window screens up, turn the fans and the lamps on, unfold the big futon in the back, find a good radio station, and I'd cook us a nice dinner on the portable propane stove. Next to the Winnebagos and sleek pop-trailers our lime green school bus was hopelessly hippy-ish but it was pretty darn nice and very much our house for those two months we wandered cross-country and back.

For all their oddness our places were homes. Always room and welcome enough at our table (and a place to sleep if needs be). The dishes didn't match but the food was good.

These days the food is great and the matching dishes are set on an antique mahogany table beautifully lit by a real Tiffany lamp but the welcome mat is still there. The concept of 'home' still applies. Comfy, cozy, a place where you can grab a book and find a nice corner to sit and read. The kettle is always on the stove and the fridge always has something munchable inside.

Maybe this is why 'Wizard of Oz' is my favorite movie. ~LA

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