I had promised to count the exact number of physical addresses I have lived in so far. I had mentioned making a comparison between home number 17 and number 21. My husband has reached 27 actually. Not me. No such “luck”. I have only lived in 16 houses but since 8 of them happened in only 7 years… I got carried away!
Seven years ago I joined my husband starting his second career. We lived in a small apartment in Virginia which was house number 9 for me and number 20 for him. We had to learn the different neighborhoods to pick the right one for school purposes. After three months there we found a little brick house (#10) in a great neighborhood with very good schools and fantastic neighbors. It was my first time living in the United States for real (I had had summer jobs in Florida when I was a student) and it felt unreal, like in a movie from the 1950s. Kids running, playing in the street, basketball, hide and seek, no worrying parents. Neighbors bringing you welcome carrot cakes and chocolate chip cookies. One day my son came back, amazed, from his new friend’s house describing how the cookies were in a glass jar because the mom had cooked them herself – shame on me buying them at the supermarket! Christmas caroling from house to house. Sycamores in the fall.
Alas less than a year later we were assigned to our first tour overseas. I say alas because we were leaving our fantastic neighbors but we were obviously also happy to finally start our big adventure. We landed in West Africa and a huge white house welcomed us (#11). White outside, white inside floors, walls, ceilings. No cookies from neighbors here but the call of the muezzin five times a day and a stray dog who adopted us, named Roxy by my daughter. Senegal is a francophone country so it was very easy for us to settle and we welcomed the warmer climate.
After two years we came back to the United States and lived in Arizona (#12) a few months before our next assignment to Mexico City (#13). We lived in an apartment because the choice was an apartment in the Polanco area (my favorite place in the city) or a house in the hills, which meant horrendous commute and much colder weather. After almost two years in Mexico we moved to the greenest city of this part of the world: Islamabad (#14). It is funny how you don’t grow up fantasizing about making Pakistan your home country … and yet we had a great time there, much better than anticipated.
After one year in Islamabad we moved to Budapest in a nice house (#15) but for technical reasons we had to move again after six weeks and finally settle in house #16.
I now need to explain why I wrote physical address and not just address, why each time we move we are actually juggling with seven snail-mail addresses!!!
1 – our permanent address in the United States (use for banking & retirement)
2 – our permanent address in France (use for banking & retirement)
3 – our official address in Washington (use for official mail)
4 – our personal address in Dulles (use for online shopping with sites who refuse to ship to DPO)
5 – our DPO address in the U.S. (the most used for online shopping)
6 – our address at the Embassy (our official response when asked where we live; also for invoices for example)
7 – our real address (we only give it to friends and the school shuttle)
Yes, you need to be organized when you become a Foreign Service Officer.