Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Houses that Built Me: 10 Stein Road, Ellington CT

When I did the intro post for this series, I named this house--the first house I have any memory of--the one that "taught me how best to build a snow fort". While that is absolutely one thing I learned during the approximately 13 years that I lived here, I was really just trying to be amusing. Because how could I ever pick just one thing that I learned here? How can I ever pick just one memory? 10 Stein Road, or "the house in the hole", was where I grew up. Literally. Figuratively...I did a lot more growing up in other homes, other places.
-source- Please note that the addition on the left wasn't there until I was about 13 years old. The porch on the far right was screened in after we sold the house...I just don't have any pictures of this home :o(
When my parents built this house, they built what they could afford--which wasn't much. I want to say that for the first ten years that we lived here, this house was maybe 1500 square feet? That probably sounds large to some of you. Shit, it sounds large to me, considering I've spent most of my adult life in apartments and houses far smaller than that. But 1500 square feet packed with two adults, three growing children, on average two dogs and two cats...well, things got a bit full.

What I really learned at 10 Stein Road is this--that a family doesn't need money to be happy. That in all actuality, my family was probably far happier when there was no money to be had. Our home was small, but it was well built. We had a roof over our head and thanks to my amazing cook of a mother, a decent meal on the table every night. My father worked five and sometimes six days a week. He had to travel a lot. He left before I got up in the morning and many times barely made it home for a 6 or 6:30 PM dinner. My mom stayed at home during the day, which meant a loss of income. That loss of income was made up by her cleaning other people's houses and doctor's offices during the day when we were at school, or many times in the evening and having to drag us along with her.

I'm not ashamed of any of this. In fact, I am proud of it. Proud of them. My parents worked hard and they always, always took care of us. I know that I appreciate what I have now so much more because I remember watching them struggle. And as cheesy as it sounds, the lack of expendable funds made us that much more affectionate with each other, I think. Seeing them work so hard to give us what we needed made me respect them more than I think they will ever know. Seeing them start their company from the corner of that basement on 10 Stein Road and build it from next to nothing to a business that not only supported us, but made them something akin to wealthy--this, I will never forget.

I wish I had more pictures of this house. I'm sure my dad does, somewhere. It wasn't much to see, anyway. A little cape built into a hillside and surrounded by woods and fields. Eventually, when my parents' company took off and there was money, they expanded the house to include probably another 600 or 700 square feet. It was great having my own room, for sure, but I think I could have been a-okay with leaving the house just the way it was. I never spent much time in it anyway, and that takes me back to my original point--learning to build a snow fort.

10 Stein Road was the perfect home for a tomboy. We had sledding hills right there in our yard. The forest was mere steps away, with plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring. We stole our dad's hammer and dragged some plywood into the woods and built our own fort. We used our bare hands to tear down stalks of this wheat-looking stuff and pretend that it was in fact wheat, that it was our food, that it was eighteen hundred something and our bicycles were horses and the storage shed was our one-room cabin. And that snow fort? One year my father helped us build a snow fort that was unrivaled. It was nearly big enough for an average 10-year-old to stand in, and built and packed so well that it lasted for the majority of the winter. It was perfect in every way.

For the majority of the time I lived at this house, I was carefree and innocent and naive and so many things that part of me would love to feel again.

Of course, none of that could last forever...because I didn't move out of 10 Stein until I was nearly 16, and everyone knows what comes with those teenage years. I had [what I thought was] my first heartbreak, my first kiss, and my first real boyfriend (yes, in that order) at 10 Stein Road. I made friends, lost them, made more, lost them too, and finally found myself my own little "crew" during my sophomore year of high school.

And at the end, when I was starting my junior year of high school and my parents forced us to move (not even to a new town! just a new house, also in Ellington), I was devastated. At the ever-mature and knowledgeable age of 15, I swore that I would never be able to call another place "home". Funny to think now that at 28 years old, I've spent less than half my time on this Earth living at 10 Stein Road...but at 15, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. And I hated my parents for tearing me away from this, my comfort zone.

Little did I know how much more there was to come... Pin It

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