As another house move adventure begins, I realize there’s a word to describe Charlie and I…gypsies. One of my favorite columnists, Marni Jameson, beat me to it in her Orlando Sentinel column, “Moving: Lessons from the Gypsy Camp.” As a home-stager, Marni has an excuse for her many moves…not sure what our excuse is, other than itchy feet, boredom and, sometimes, serendipity.
In our 41 married years we’ve bought nine homes, including the one we just moved into…more on that later.
Our first place was a tiny one-bedroom condo in The Springs, Longwood. (For many of us old-timers, you’ll remember this area as Sanlando Springs, a favorite swimming hole when we were kids.) We’re talking 1976 so this place was loaded with cedar and orange shag carpeting, which we adored. As the first (of many) home improvement projects in our new marriage, Charlie added a loft, which opened my eyes to what this man could do with a hammer and saw. I learned early on to let him go with his vision and everything would be just fine.
One of my favorite memories is the two of us, along with friends, taking disco lessons from a local dance studio. We learned The Hustle to the tunes of Stayin’ Alive, by the BeeGees, even testing our skills at a local discotheque, Xanadu (more old-timer memories).
Four years in the condo, and with a baby on the way meant we needed a move to a larger place, so we headed downtown. This was before Orlando was cool but houses were affordable. Soon Charlie became a fan of Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques, which was then located in Sanford (now in Deland). We bought an entire porch taken from a razed house and Charlie transformed our boring, two-story stucco into a real beauty.
Two babies, and four years, later we realized our neighborhood wasn’t the place for our girls. Playing outside with wafts of weed floating over their heads, a funky guy walking down the street with his hand to his ear, chattering away, as if he were talking on the phone (before cell phones)…yet another passed out in our front yard one evening. We decided it was time to move to the suburbs and search out good schools and family neighborhoods.
We wound up in Tuscawilla for the next 10 years, had another baby, got entrenched in the elementary school PTA and made some great friends along the way. At some point the rental next door became a thorn in our side and we saw an opportunity to grab a much bigger property in the same neighborhood, so we put ours on the market. Real estate trends immediately started to change and it took much longer to sell than we thought. Once we had a buyer, the homes close by were no longer available, so we chose something totally out of the box, a house in the adjacent county, on a river. It would mean changing schools, so we placated the kids by promising a puppy and they were ecstatic. Of course, that one puppy quickly became 2 and, over the years we added a couple of kitties to the menagerie.
This neighborhood was a bit different, most houses were on acreage, so they were spread out. Dirt road, horse barns, alligators in the river, the neighbors were eclectic, lots of different personalities, great parties and interesting architecture. The house was roomy and fun to decorate in our kitschy way but I never bonded with it as there was bad mojo in terms of family medical issues shortly after we moved in…too many unfortunate memories. After ten years, out of the blue, someone approached us about selling and we jumped at the chance, as the kids were out of high school and going their own way.
Back downtown we picked up a sweet bungalow near Thornton Park, within walking distance of Lake Eola. Once again, we blended into the neighborhood, but this move was short-lived as, a year and a half later, Charlie had the opportunity to retire early and the beach was calling. This house took no time whatsoever to sell, in fact we had a bidding war going on just 3 weeks into listing.
Reluctantly, I packed up, once again, and we headed to New Smyrna Beach, finding a cute house just a block from the beach. We loved walking along the shore every day, grew tanned, stocked up on appropriate tropical adult drinks and, 20 pounds later, realized we should have stayed out of the liquor store. Once again, we made great friends but sometimes grew weary of the comings and goings of day trippers, bike week lost its novelty, and seasonal snow birds…just when you got to know someone, they’re gone!
Consequently, seven years later, after too much sun, too many pina coladas and a homesickness for downtown Orlando, we sold out, and headed back down Interstate 4 to SODO, a newly coined term for the area just south of downtown. We found that highway 408 was the dividing line for affordability and returning to Thornton Park was now out of the question.
We located a little house that needed another bathroom but had a kitchen to die for and a beautiful view of tiny Lake Emerald. Having 903 Mills Market around the corner was another perk, so we added that bathroom and settled in for, what I thought, was a long time with no incentive to move on. Of course, in our case nothing is permanent as we decided to invest in a summer home in the NC mountains. After our first summer we realized we needed something back in Orlando with less maintenance and no worries. Once again, family and friends were rolling their eyes at yet another move as, four years later, we put the place up for sale and shopped for a condo.
Most house moves go seamlessly with both closings on the same day. This one was different. By the time we sold, we did not have another residence in place so we had to store the furniture and move in to the mountain house until something popped up. Well, something definitely popped up in an old familiar neighborhood…The Springs, our first home all those 41 years ago.
Yes, we not only moved back into The Springs, but back to Fairway Villas, just a few doors from our first place. The pine tree we bought as a live Christmas tree, is now towering over the buildings, bringing back so many memories. And, yes, it will take a bit of a learning curve to get back into a multi-family living situation, but we’re ready for an adventure, not to mention the beauty of the pristine springs in our neighborhood.
We’ve made many life-long friends along the way, in each neighborhood, and never regretted a single move. The other day I popped in to our local Publix and, while perusing the aisles, heard a familiar tune that made me feel right at home…Stayin’ Alive. I resisted the urge to dance those old Hustle moves and let the feeling of nostalgia wash over me as I realized, after all these years, I’m home!