This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at http://Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com
Now, on to my blog:
This is a continuation of my two previous blogs about moving from my house of forty-five years:
I arrived at my new, empty condo and settled down for the night on a mat on the floor which I’d brought tied to the top of my car. To put a positive spin on a bleak experience, I chose to view it as camping out complete with dinner by flashlight.
The moving van arrived with my furniture the next day. Aside from some minor damage to a few things, most of my belongings were intact.
It’s strange to accept that this is my new home and not just a vacation rental—temporary digs until returning to my real life. It’s strange to realize that there are new people living in my old house now. They are cooking in my kitchen, showering in my bathroom, storing their possessions in my closets, and generally displacing me. Will my old house remember me and all the years I spent painting her, repairing her, gentling her as she broke down? We aged together, my old house and I, our parts wearing out and needing fixing.
My condo is becoming a home. It’s an adjustment, but I’m slowly personalizing it. I’ve installed my own furniture, pictures, tchotchkes, and even some beloved plants which accompanied me in my car, gently covered to shade them from the harsh sun. Pictures and other touches brought from my former life to make me feel comfortable are coming out of boxes. Oh, the boxes—daunting as they stare at me, tease me. They are slowly disappearing as I tackle them, sift through their contents I so carefully packed, rediscover my possessions, and make decisions where to install them.
I’m arranging, rearranging, and learning how things work. There are so many decisions to make—big ones, small ones, and all sizes in between. Where’s the light switch? Okay, I found it. Now, how do I turn it on? In my new abode, the refrigerator opens on the opposite side from my old one. My kitchen sink is a double like before, but the garbage disposal is on the right, not on the left—grrrr. I concentrate hard on everything; nothing comes automatically—tiring, very tiring. I need a vacation from decision making.
There are lots of problems to solve: the toilet that leaks when flushed, the air conditioning that doesn’t properly condition the air to name a few. Yes, my home warranty covers them. But, it still means I have to figure out who to call, be there for an appointment, live with the problem until the problem solver arrives, etc. I remind myself that they are only bumps in the road—first world problems as I’ve blogged about before.
My son mentioned how unsettling it felt when he called my old telephone number, the only land line he ever knew for me, to find a mechanical voice referral to another number. I’ve spent hours on that new phone calling all the enterprises that define my life: credit card companies, insurance companies, utilities, my HMO, and on and on, to inform them of this major, traumatic change in my life and to give them my new address. Oddly, they were only interested in the latter.
I’m making almost daily trips to such establishments as Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond; hardware stores and the like to purchase anew the things I left behind and, of course, now need.
On the flip side, I love my new condo; it’s everything I wanted. Deer and wild turkeys stroll through my backyard from time to time, and I watch them from my office window. I can’t get enough of that.
My son came over with his tools to help me set up a few things. This is the first time I have lived close to him since he left for college twenty-five years ago. He’s coming over again next weekend to do more and just generally hang out. He’ll bring over his wife and children soon so everyone can see grandma’s new place.
My neighbor stopped over a few days ago to introduce herself and bring me a box of candy and a sweet note. Friends I made when I rented for a few months in this community last year to try it on for size have reached out to me and are eager to reconnect. It makes me feel welcome, like coming home again—back in a comfort zone.
I have downsized and aim for a slower, less stressful life. I love it here and don’t regret my move. Yes, this was the right decision for me. It’s hard to admit when something has run its course. We hang on, hoping to return to a time of contentment, refusing to admit that “you can’t go home again.” Change is frightening, but we must forge on when life gets stale. It’s calming and soothing when you know you’ve gotten it right.
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