LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Moving house as a way of life
I was in a local engineer’s office recently, and the subject of moving came up.
The engineer that I was chatting with told me that she has moved 12 times while living here in Truckee. I’ve moved at least that many times myself.
Of course, I don’t think it’s fair to count the five times my husband and I moved during our first year here in Truckee. We moved for reasons that weren’t always well founded back then, such as to gain a roommate or to lose a roommate or we would simply find someplace better to live. “Better” might have been defined as “on the Summit” or then “off the Summit.” A big step-up for us was the house that had a washer and dryer.
Moving did not involve much stress back then, since my husband John, who was my boyfriend at the time, and I had arrived in Truckee with everything we owned stuffed into a Volkswagon Bug.
Just the other night I had one of those conversations that you sometimes have with your spouse, late at night in the dark after you’ve turned the lights out. I asked John if we really moved from one house in Tahoe Donner to the house next door because it was a mere $25 cheaper per month. This by the way, was not during our first year living in Truckee. It was our fifth year here; the year we got married in 1986.
Looking back on it, it’s hard to believe that saving such a small amount of money was really a motivating factor for us to move. We are hoping it was more like a $50 per month savings, but our memories both seem to recall that we made that move to save $25. We moved from a furnished house with a two-car garage next door to an unfurnished house with no garage. That doesn’t sound like such a smart move except that I believe it was the beginning of a progression – a beginning to acquiring stuff.
Since the cheaper rental was unfurnished, we bought what I thought at the time was a beautiful dining room table. I remember sitting at that table, disbelieving that it was ours. Soon after, I purchased an antique dresser.
As is the case with most life journeys, moving during our early years required making several trips with a truck. Eventually our moves required a small U-Haul. I hate to think what will be needed for our next move.
Anyway, next thing I knew, we were moving out to Glenshire, into our very own fixer-upper.
We’ve never stayed in one house more than four and a half years, which is how long we’ve been in our current house. So, as perhaps you can guess, I was in an engineer’s office recently because we are working on plans for our next house.
When we moved into our current house, we declared it would be our final and permanent place to live in Truckee. Four and a half years later I am unable to utter those words again. A more accurate declaration would be, it’s time to move.
We have names for all the houses we’ve lived in, to help us identify years and places. There’s the “blue house” that we rented in Meadow Park, which had single pane windows. During the wintertime a half-inch thick sheet of ice would form on the inside of the windows. We froze in that house, but all the year-round folks in that neighborhood sure made us feel welcome.
I think I can now fairly say that we’ve lived in most every subdivision and neighborhood in Truckee. After our many and varied experiences as renters, and then after fixing up our fixer-upper, we then built a house, and then we sold it. Then we built again.
My parents, who live back east, have long since learned to not question or comment or even sigh when I inform them that we are moving again. I have a feeling that the one place that holds an accurate count of the times we’ve moved could be found in my mother’s address book. Over the course of 20 years she has crossed out many physical addresses for us, replacing it with a new one in order to ensure accurate delivery of packages sent to us via UPS.
It helps to keep the same phone number and the same post office box, though. And it’s these rationalizations that keep me grounded.
These rationalizations also help me explain to our kids, that yes, we are moving again, but they won’t be changing schools. We’ll keep our same friends, and I believe we’ll continue to feel as if we belong to this very treasured place, even if we find ourselves at different addresses as the years go by.
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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