Mar 14 2010

Material girl.


The term “housewife” has always struck me as a ridiculous word, notion…until now. As a single woman, I have become a housewife. We separated; I got the house! This sunny spring Portland day I feel anything but footloose. I am responsible for a house in Tulsa, 10 plus tons of household items filling my two-bedroom Portland flat and two five-year old Whippets napping on the office sofa.

Downsizing is common at my age. I belong to the first wave of empty nesters trimming our sails. I have gone from 3700 square feet to less than 1700. It wasn’t difficult. Growing up as an Exxon brat, moving every two to three years, I wasn’t allowed to accumulate a lot of stuff. Typically each assignment overseas meant a new home and new furnishings.

As a 20-something year old I began accumulating things, feathering my nest and inviting friends over every chance I got. I guess you could say I was a homemaker, before and after I was married.

I set a personal record many times over by living 10 years in a midtown Tulsa house on Cincinnati Avenue but the die appeared to have been cast; Tulsans pegged me as a frequent mover. The title is warranted. In 17 months I have lived in one house and four flats. I don’t count the half dozen places I’ve stayed during monthly visits to Tulsa.

While living in Tulsa, moving around town allowed us to experience the different lifestyles related to the locale of the house. South Tulsa is different than downtown, midtown or uptown. It also gave us floor plans suited to our stage in life. Most houses really aren’t flexible enough to ideally accommodate a family’s changes over many years. Too many houses are thematic and have rooms assigned for very specific functions. Houses are often designed to suit the “new family,” “the empty-nester,” and such. The formal living room that was a product of the Regan era was eclipsed completely by the “great room,” “the family room,”… sprouting from the more casual era of the Clinton administration. A young child’s room near the master bedroom is great; a teenager’s room over the garage is far more ideal a few years later.

So where is home? More often people ask me which city I like best – Portland or Tulsa. That’s an easy question. Where is home? “I don’t know,” I said to Steve Canada when he asked this week.

Webster says home can be a domicile, a social unit, congenial environment, a place of origin or where the heart is. My mum, Pat Medaris, calls Australia home. She left Sydney in 1947 to travel the world with my father. It was on one of their trips to the states in late 1958 that I was born. I’ve never thought of the Missouri town between Fayetteville, Arkansas and New York City as home. I left it at six weeks of age, headed to Venezuela.

Pat has also many times said, “Home is where you hang your hat.” Does anyone still wear a hat?

As always, Trix