Photo: Damon Young

During the first 18 years of my life, my parents and I lived at seven different addresses.

There was (in chronological order) my mom’s mom’s (Nana’s) house. Then an apartment in East Liberty in Pittsburgh. Then a house in Lincoln-Lemington. Then a house in Verona. Then another house in Verona a block away from the first Verona house. Then a townhouse in East Liberty. And then a house in Penn Hills. Each place was a rental.

When I was 21, they bought a house in Penn Hills. After graduating from Canisius at 22, I moved back home from Buffalo, N.Y., and lived with them. I stayed there for three years, and then moved out and got my own apartment in Shadyside.

After staying there for six years, I moved with my then-girlfriend to a townhouse in Point Breeze. After we broke up five months later, I moved back in with my parents until I secured a new place.

Unfortunately, my parents’ house was foreclosed on by a bank during this time, so we all moved to a rental around the corner from their old house. I stayed there for two months and then moved into an apartment in Point Breeze.

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I lived there for a year. When my lease was up, my (new) girlfriend and I got a place together in Manchester. We stayed there for a year and a half, got married, and then moved into a two-story loft on 5th Avenue. We stayed there for a year, and then moved to another two-story loft space on the Northside because my wife was pregnant and she wanted to live in a place where both our bedroom and the baby’s bedroom were on the same floor. (In the 5th Avenue loft space, the bedrooms were on separate floors.)

We stayed there for a year and then found a three-story townhouse for rent in the Mexican War Streets and moved there.

This is where we currently live. Our lease ends when August begins.

This is, by my count, 16 different addresses. If you count the dorms and apartments I lived in while in college—I don’t, usually, but let’s do it for shits and giggles—that number jumps to 20. Twenty-one-ish if you count the stretch during spring break my junior year when I came home for a week and discovered that home was Nana’s (again) because my parents had been evicted from their house in Penn Hills.

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Of those 21 different addresses over a 39-year span, only four years total were spent living in a home that was owned by a member of my family. The first stretch at Nana’s house when I was an infant; the second stretch at Nana’s house when I was 21 and my parents had been evicted from their house; and the three-year stretch after I graduated college and lived in the house my parents owned before they lost it.

Yesterday, I bought a house. We will be moved in by the end of the month.

It’s still too new to accurately express how it feels to walk into a space that I own; to be able to touch a wall or a doorknob or a faucet or just a blade of fucking grass that belongs to me and not a landlord. And perhaps, when more time passes, I’ll articulate each and every anxiety-ridden step of the house-buying process—including how, just two weeks ago, my loan application was denied by the same lender that gave me a pre-approval a month ago.

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Today, however, I just want to (finally) breathe.