Yesterday the movers came – a major step in what is proving to be a difficult transition, one that Kim and I are struggling to enjoy with our usual optimism and good humor. The reasons are numerous. I’ll list them in no particular order, as each one at various times seems more significant.
We love this house we are leaving. We love the design, the livability, the view, and the way Kim decorated it. Tough to move from there to an apartment, no matter how convenient the apartment is as a base from which to find our next home that we can no longer buy. Today as we walked through our empty house, we feel a sense of loss. We know it is wise to end our “snowbird” existence and live in one home, and we know, after a few weeks of Gainesville’s heat and humidity, that our home will probably be in Michigan. And wisdom dictates that we make the move now, while we still have the energy and our health concerns can, for a while, yield to denial. The same wisdom is an acknowledgment of aging and, yes, our mortality.
We are leaving very good friends, people we have grown especially close to in the last few months. We are leaving with promises to return for visits and to keep in touch, but that is not the same as getting together for dinner, coffee, wine, photo shoots – all those things friends do together. What is more important than friends? And sorry, kids, but Facebook is no substitute for hugs.
Family, perhaps, and we are leaving our Florida family. Kim and Genne’ are amazingly close, but they will remain amazingly close even when we are 1,000 miles away. But still – it’s a departure. Our Florida grandkids are in the process of their own departures, Ben to his first real job in Atlanta, and Reilly to the University of Florida and the set of interests that take over the life of an 18-year-old. But still . . ..
We are moving to an uncertain future (a term that is a redundancy). The sale of our Florida home fell through at the last minute – financing problems for our buyers. We learned this after we’d spent 3 weeks packing and giving away some furniture – too late to change our decision to move. Our plan was to buy a house with the money from this one. Now we can’t do that, and we don’t know what we will do. When we combine this uncertainty with the medical uncertainties that haunt people our age, and you end up feeling, well, very uncertain. Of that we are certain.
Of course, we don’t only feel uncertain at the moment. We also feel frustrated, angry, and tired. It doesn’t help that we will not be able to collect the “earnest money” held in escrow, even though we took our house off the active market for a month while we were under contract.
This is the point in my blog where I am supposed to come up with a Wise Insight, possibly spiked with humor. I’ll try to write myself into it:
The poem “Flying and Failing” by Jack Gilbert concludes with these lines:
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
I tried using these words to comfort a friend who had just gone through a divorce, but he said, “I’m not there yet.” I know what he meant, though I certainly see Gilbert’s words as something to shoot for as we confront the uncertainties of our aging and the certainty of our mortality.
Amid all the uncertainties and, for me more than Kim, the difficulty of change, it is good to reflect on a few certainties. For one, I am certain that Trump is an asshole. But more importantly, I am certain about the strength of our marriage and Kim’s rare ability to make wherever we live a beautiful home. This is a source of confidence and joy in a solid core beneath the buzzing and temporary uncertainties.
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