Kim and I have decided to move. Well, perhaps “decided” is too strong a word. We are planning how to move away from this home that we love. Some may feel that this is not a great idea for 80-year-olds with ongoing cancer treatments, pain and fatigue as a result of those treatments, a bit of knee surgery, toe surgery, arthritis, etc. We are “planning” because planning is an act of the mind and imagination. We have talked with a few realtors, but we have yet to put stuff in boxes or make a deposit of the well-named “earnest money.”
Why would we leave here? Several reasons lead us to think about it and make some plans.
· Depressing. This has been a gray and uncomfortable winter, except for the beautiful and exciting snowfalls we had, both of which quickly melted. It’s hard to go for walks in the ice, mud and wind. Maybe Florida in the winter?
· Isolated. Our neighbors have fled to warmer temperatures. Visits from family are difficult, partly because of distance (Florida, Georgia, Colorado) and partly because of some family friction. And some of our neighbors here have some sort of grudge against us (hard to believe, right?), which makes neighborhood summer gatherings difficult. We have more friends in Florida, and we would not be in a remote location. The nearest traffic light to our home here is 15 miles away.
· Overworked. Maintaining a home takes a lot of work, when you consider yard, garden and beach on top of routine maintenance (filters, smoke alarms, doorbell battery, painting touchups, etc.) on top of routine cleaning, laundry, cooking, dishes, etc., almost all of which Kim does for us. And then there is the occasional blizzard and power failure to deal with. Did I mention that we are on the verge of being old?
At this point we are considering a number of Snowbird options. We saw a beautiful house for sale in Gainesville in our old neighborhood overlooking the wildlife of Paynes Prairie. Two problems: 1) The house is expensive and would really stretch our budget, and 2) there is an offer pending on the property. (The second problem probably cancels out the first.) If, somehow, we got the house, we could sell our Bark House here (recently got a good appraisal from a realtor) and move, for six months or so, to a more modest condo nearer to family and friends in the Ann Arbor area.
Another possibility is to keep this house and find a more modest – but still cool – house in or near Gainesville. We have seen one online, but it’s hard to tell how much work it needs, and the laundry equipment is in the kitchen, next to the refrigerator and blocking a window. We have friends looking. We could do 6 months / 6 months, as we did for ten years.
Before we had our eyes on a return to Florida, we were considering a simple move to a condo in a community just outside of Ann Arbor. We could live there part of the year, or, when our Bark House becomes too much for us, full time. The problem is that no units are for sale in that community, though we do have a realtor looking. So, we are looking at two separate moves to places over 1000 miles apart. We could do both.
Or, we can just stay here. We can pay for a lot of help for what a house would cost.
Part of my brain imagines the process of moving, and at my age, it’s not all fun. In addition to all the packing and hauling boxes, there are all those decisions about what to keep, what to sell, what goes where, and how to find movers we can trust. I remember learning in Lamaze class that transition is the hardest part of labor (not for the guy . . .), and the transition would be a hard part of moving. I’m still learning how our Bark House works – the maintenance (smoke alarm batteries, furnace filters, water softener salt, garage door lubrication, etc.) – and I’d have to learn another one. Kim, despite her pain and fatigue, is less daunted by this than I am. And after all, we have moved nine times in the 30+ years we have been married. Moving in and out of homes is a bit like breathing, in contrast to holding your breath, or not breathing.
All of this planning has been very energizing, even if it amounts to nothing. And all the planning, combined with searching on realtor.com and Zillow, has turned on our creative juices, especially Kim’s, as she is looking forward to organizing and decorating a new place – or several new places. At breakfast one morning she explained where various pieces of furniture and artwork would go in a house we later learned is not for sale – ideas she had in the middle of the night. It’s also turned on another part of our brains as we try to figure out how to best pay for whatever we end up doing – also creative, but in a different way.
Or: Forget buying a second house and just travel to B&Bs whenever we feel like it. Keep moving.
The decision to move is as much about our relationship as it is about housing. Woody Allen said, famously, “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” Kim reassures me, “Don’t worry – we’ll be happy wherever we are.” With that attitude, we will keep our shark alive.