Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Downsizing: The Memo

           Kim and I have recently transitioned from living in two homes (summer: Michigan; winter: Florida) to living in an apartment. This has not been easy.

            A few days ago we were feeling pretty good about cramming two housefuls of stuff into the apartment, the garage, and three storage lockers a few miles away. We had removed the last of the boxes from the living room, worked out the placement of the kitchen gear that Kim needs, and I found my checkbook in a suitcase. Then we got The Memo. We trust that everyone in River Oaks West got one.

            It seemed innocuous at first. Remove items that don’t belong in your garage and on your deck (we have an eight-foot wide balcony facing a pond). But a closer reading of the note made it very clear that renting an apartment is different from owning your home.

            I am well aware of the Native American idea that we don’t really “own” any land. The Great Spirit allows us to live there for a while, and we are to take care of it, but we don’t really own it. Even when you “own” your home, you don’t really own it because the city, or the homeowner’s association, can tell you what you can and cannot do there, and Donald Trump can take it from you to build a hotel or casino.

            But I’m a white guy, not a Native American, and Kim and I used to own two homes, and now we don’t. The Memo made that clear. Failure to comply, it stated, could result in our eviction.

            We were told that the only items we are allowed to have in “our” garage are our car and, in a clear act of generosity, our bicycles. (It is not clear whether or not our bicycle pump would be allowed.) Kim and I pride ourselves in being good citizens, not troublemakers, so we are trying to comply. We have moved a few more items into our basement. Kim assures me she will find a way to work our garbage can into our living room décor, and if anyone can do this, Kim can. I think I can get our lawnmower into my shower. We also have a small refrigerator in our garage – useful because the one in the kitchen tends to drip water onto the contents – and we could tip it onto its side to use as a coffee table. Another option would to be to mount some wheels on it and call it a bicycle.

            Another part of The Memo stated that we are not allowed to have furniture on our deck. We have two deck chairs there. We’ve been too busy to sit in them, but they are undoubtedly deck chairs. Made to be placed on a deck. Perhaps we could suspend them from ropes and say they are mobiles? We are still working on this one. We are also still deciding what to do with Kim’s collection of rocks – boulders, really, some the size of volleyballs. I don’t think River Oaks can deal with Kim’s collections.

            Kim and I try to take these matters philosophically. We know the Great Spirit didn’t write The Memo – it was The Management. And after all, adjusting to apartment living is good preparation for the transition to a nursing home.

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