Blog

Oct13
2011

The Bungalow.

By Chris Youngblood

Two weeks from today will mark the four year anniversary of the day I threw all of my possessions into two garbage bags, put them in my truck, and drove eight hours from Atlanta, GA to Cocoa, FL to become the first official intern of To Write Love on Her Arms. The morning I left, I printed out directions to The Bungalow to ride as my passenger (this is how people navigated the land once upon a time before a GPS was a likely possession). I stopped by Chick-Fil-A for breakfast to eat on the road, and I began my drive down I-75 without realizing I’d revisit the place I had known my entire life only five times over the next four years—without realizing I was driving toward a new kind of home.

I assumed I was driving to a house on the beach, to be quite honest. A house on the beach with lively young neighbors and burrito stands all around. When you live west of Atlanta all of your life, this is the kind of romance you create in your head about places outside your bubble. As I made my way toward the city of Cocoa, a water tower with a giant American flag painted on it came into view. I share this because a couple days before I left that water tower was in the background of a CNN story covering gas station robberies and shootings in Cocoa. It was also when I realized I had about a mile and a half to go before I reached my destination. The butterflies came. So did a little rain. And with a left turn I pulled into the driveway of a yellow house with pink shutters and a white fence that had pineapples cutouts, and there was a little sign over the door that simply read “Welcome to Our Bungalow.”

Byron greeted me, and we walked through the door. The house had Ikea boxes in each room, and I was a fresh face ready to do anything and assemble everything. It’s how I spent my first night there, putting all that furniture together. The house was empty and mine, well mainly TWLOHA’s, and I didn’t know for how long. I didn’t quite know how many people would walk through that broken old door over the next four years. I didn’t realize how many people would sleep on the couches and bunk beds I built that first night when I was scared and couldn’t keep my eyes closed. I didn’t quite know I would have over a hundred strangers sleep in the backyard or on the floor during a month and a half of spring break, and that a few of them would be the most important people in my life today. I didn’t quite know how many people would call that house their home, and I feel lucky to have been the first.

For all that those walls witnessed and for the home we made there, I would like to share some of the memories from other people who have called The Bungalow home.

Chris

—————

I’ll never forget that little pineapple gate. It was quirky, cute, inviting . . . but the people were what made The Bungalow feel like home. The late nights together. The dinners, the conversations, and the friendships. Friends I still talk to today. The Bungalow was like a symbol of community, because that’s exactly what we formed there—a tight little group that could face anything together. And a lot of us faced some hard trials during those short few months. We celebrated the good times and faced the difficult things together. We didn’t just know community, we were community. A family that could tackle anything.
Liz
Summer 2010 Intern

That sweet little Bungalow held a lot of heart. I miss it, but I’m glad I still have the memories. :]
carra
Summer 2010 Intern

I will always carry fond memories about the room that I slept in while staying at The Bungalow. Since there were only three girls during my internship, we decided to sleep in one room. We took the cot from the boys’ room and put it in the first of the two girls’ rooms. Some of my favorite nights were the one where all three of us would lay in bed and just talk about the day, about life, or just giggle. In that room with those two girls, I learned so much about what it means to be vulnerable and to let other people love you even when it’s scary. That room became a safe haven for me to be sad, happy, silly, angry, or whatever I was feeling at the time.
Sarah
Fall 2010 Intern

Sitting at the dining room table eating my lunch and watching  Friends or I Love Lucy and just being with the people that I spent almost every waking minute with for four months. Having community suppers in the Florida room or in the backyard. Making dinners all at the same time in the small cramped kitchen. Locking Lauren in the laundry room. The Bungalow holds many memories. It holds beginnings of great friendships, and it holds honest and deep conversations with people that I learned to rely on and trust. It changed my life and gave me a sense of community I can never forget. It shaped and changed the things I want to do with my life and the paths I want to walk. The Bungalow will always be a place that will mean so much to me. It’s going to weird if I ever go back to that place and see it again, to see that its different and that TWLOHA has left it. But the memories will live on, and they will always be mine.
Kraig
Fall 2010 Intern

Being an intern, and living at The Bungalow in particular, meant relying on each other in a way that’s unlike most anywhere else I’ve ever lived. Working together and coming home together meant a lot of communication, and this all kind of collided in the community dinners. We would pull together the menu and the gathering of food and then invite the guests all at the last minute almost every time.  But the community dinner talks normally turned into talks on the porch swing or talks on bunk beds and talks on bike rides down the road from The Bungalow.  The details of that house are etched in my memory—the pineapple cutouts in the fence, the stretch of the porch swing, the view of the shed from the kitchen window, the lines of the living room couches.  Constant conversation and digging and growth happened within those details and walls, and that house will always mean so much to me.
Lauren
Fall 2010 Intern

Looking back, I have come to realize The Bungalow developed into more than just our temporary home. It was this tangible place we shared that quickly became a representation of the many intangible experiences we also shared. When I think of The Bungalow, I am reminded of all the great friendships and memories I still have from living there.
Joe
Spring 2011 Intern

I left The Bungalow a few days after my fellow interns, and as the term had been difficult for me personally, I was glad to have some time to breathe before driving home.  But as I sat on the front porch, contemplating the fence with its pineapple cutouts, I couldn’t bear to be at The Bungalow by myself anymore.  I realized that I had grown so much in that little Florida house—and that all of my growth had centered on the relationships with my fellow interns.  That’s what the bungalow was to me . . . a safe place to step out of my comfort zone and into the sticky, interpersonal world of community.  The Bungalow was a place of togetherness and fireworks, of love and shared meals and laughter.
Kelsey =D
Spring 2011 Intern

For four months I called The Bungalow my home. It existed at the same time as the home I came from, yet it sometimes feels like my time in The Bungalow was all a long dream, or some alternate reality. Whether times were good or bad, The Bungalow is, and always will be, a special place. It’s amazing to think of all the different stories that have passed through that ancient front door (that kept breaking), and the movement that found its footing there years ago. All of us really are part of a bigger story—one that is made up of pieces from the stories we’ve lived there.
Brendan
Spring 2011 Intern

One Saturday, the girls all went to Universal. So we had BOYZ NIGHT and made a big fort inside the bungalow. We were cool like that.
Kevin
Spring 2011 Intern

We had many campfires in our short unforgettable time at The Bungalow. Some were short, some were quiet but all made us closer as a family. One particular campfire night we had a couple TWLOHA staff members over for customary bi-weekly dinner and a campfire, and Joe, always the curious one, found some fireworks in the shed. Before we knew what was happening, he lit one and we turned around just in time to see him running toward us with a huge grin on his face. A few seconds and a huge boom later, the sky was filled with beautiful light. We were all so shocked, we just starting howling and tumbling over with laughter. It made the whole night, one we talked about for weeks afterward.

The Bungalow is a hard place to describe in terms of what it means to me. It will forever be the home where being broken and being happy could happen at the same time, where tears and laughter met somewhere in the middle, where telling stories and listening to stories had equal importance, and where six people from completely difference backgrounds came together and made a family that is there for each other no matter what. It is special, and it worked its magic on all of us.
Alyssa
Spring 2011 Intern

For my birthday (in December), I got a new perfume from my dad, DKNY Be Delicious (my favorite smell I was never able to afford).  Of course I brought it to Florida for my internship in the spring and wore it basically everyday. Recently back in Idaho getting into the school swing, I sprayed it, and it instantly took me back to The Bungalow. The girls room, the living room, the creaks of the hardwood floor, and the yelling as we all wanted to win Monopoly.  It’s funny how smells do that because in Florida the smell reminded me of home, my dad, and my family.

The Bungalow is full of awkward moments, Parkour, ballet moves, lizards, laughs, cries, and silence.

The Toy Story cup in The Bungalow was mine. Well, I found it when I moved in . . . but I took ownership. I loved it. We made jokes I could probably find it at Wal-Mart for a dollar, but really I found it at Wal-Mart in Idaho for seventy-five cents when I returned home.  Everyone knew not to touch my Toy Story cup.

Since I was probably the only Pocahontas to live in The Bungalow . . . it’s my fault the raccoon lived in the backyard. We could knock on the kitchen window, and Meeko (the raccoon) would wave. Chad once thought I was weird for asking about animal predators, I mean I have to make sure cougars aren’t following me in the woods, but in Florida Chad told me to watch out for the raccoons in the daylight. I’m pretty sure I could take one on.

In the mornings, everyone was too tired to talk, or have manners, so we bumped, pushed, and ran into each other, then mumbled sorry in the cramped kitchen. I miss that.
Amanda
Spring 2011 Intern

Here’s what I think of when I think of The Bungalow:
– The old TWLOHA office . . . man oh man, those were the days. Storing all the merch in what is now a boys’ closet?! Haha.
– Sleepovers on tiny Ikea beds with Katie
– Honest convos on the porch swing
– The cake ball disaster with Holly
– THE KOLSCH WEDDING! <3
– Discovering I had a twin in Carra
– So many dinners
– Brainstorming meetings
– My writing group on the back porch / the day nearly everybody cried and respected each other / amazing
– Meeting Renee and June
– Dreaming of going back to school one day
Kaitlyn
Former TWLOHA Staff

Well, The Bungalow was the place I got married. The place I had my first “adult” job. The place where I learned to love being a “gardener” and seeing people grow and change.
Lindsay
Former TWLOHA Staff

I’ll always remember walking through The Bungalow door with my sister, meeting Byron and Chris for the first time, on my first day in Florida. Little did I know I’d walk through that door hundreds of times and even live there for a short while. I have so many memories involving The Bungie, but my favorite would have to be the time Chloe and I lit small fireworks in the backyard. Turns out, they were not small fireworks and we did not have the best aim. I’ll leave it at that.
Katie
TWLOHA Staff

The Bungalow will always hold so many memories for me. I lived there with Katie for a few months. I lived there alone as well. I had a desk in two different rooms. It’s where I decided to change my major from Pre-Med to Communications. I was hired in the backyard at the patio table. It’s a special place. It will be strange to never walk in the front door with the broken handle again, but change can be a very good thing.
Chloe
Fall 2008 Intern
TWLOHA Staff

Leave a Reply