As someone who moved around a lot growing up, I’ve grown to appreciate having somewhere I’ve called home for longer than six-months. When I tell people how many I’ve had, some are jealous, but most simply can’t imagine what it would be like to have lived in 42 different homes.
If you grew up constantly shifting house, moving from one rental to the next, as I did when I was a kid, you’d probably think it is normal to stay no longer than one year in one locale. And I did think it was normal. Normal, but not necessarily nice. I left behind many burgeoning friendships and scattered a lot of the energy that helps form life-lasting bonds.
But what I’ve missed out on in lifelong friendships, I’ve gained in a wealth of worldly experience.
My life as a wandering Mitchell began soon after birth. Born in England to Australian parents in an American doomsday cult (of which Dad was a minister in) I had barely turned one when I had already experienced my first international plane trip to my next cot down under.
Mum and Dad are sketchy about the details but they’re both sure we flew into Melbourne before relocating to Sydney where my brother was born. From there the four of us inhabited a long line of two, three and even a couple of four-bedroom houses we called home.
Once, we were living in Perth and my parents had just finished building their own home only to be told Dad was getting another transfer—to another state. We packed up the lego set, gave away my billy-kart and hit the Nullarbor Plain, headed to our next home, which turned out to be back in Sydney again. We stayed there for a year or so before moving to America—for just six months.
As a kid I lived in the great harbour city on and off for many years before settling in Melbourne around the time I began high-school. By then I’d already had 26 different home addresses. When I moved out at 19 (with Mum’s nudging—but that’s another blog/story) I kept up the habit of moving along too. I lived in a string of share-houses in Melbourne before heading to London and discovering bedsits. By the time I met my wife, deciding I’d filled in more than enough rental applications for this life, I’d notched up another 14 ‘welcome home’ mats.
So, 26+14=40. Where’s the other two I hear you ask?
Well, for the first year after our marriage, my wife and I lived in a rental in the bush. It was a lovely time and we may have stayed longer if not for our desire to start a family coupled with our desire to not have a mortgage. Before my wife fell pregnant we moved in with my in-laws, and I am happy to say that the big house the now five of us share—to this day—is my number 42.
Luckily for me number 42 is, as any Douglas Adams fan will know, the answer to life, the universe and everything. And in this case, it is also the answer to how many homes I’ve had.
By the way—my wife? She’s had 5 homes.
As for our daughter, so far just the one.