It was one of the most intense physical experiences of our twenty-plus years together. Sure, we’d done it before, but our bodies were older now. So we started slowly, taking time to help each other along the way as our desire to “get there” grew.
Our stamina surprised us. We pushed. We pulled. We used muscles we forgot we had, contorting ourselves in ways we thought were no longer possible. We grunted and groaned and sighed. It seemed to go on forever and, when it was all over, we collapsed against each other, spent and deeply satisfied about what we’d made happen.
The best sex ever?
We moved to a condo.
Yep. After ten years in an eight-room, two-story house on nearly two acres of land, Hubs and I decided it was time to downsize, forego the yard work and snow shoveling, cash out our equity, and live mortgage-free closer to civilization.
Don’t get me wrong: I loved living in a small coastal Maine town where we found a tremendous sense of community and connection, and a great group of friends.
But as we’ve gotten older, priorities shift. Degenerative disc disease makes mowing the lawn painful. The charm of an all-volunteer fire and rescue service (for which Hubs served as an ambulance driver) becomes fraught with considerations like, “If I have a medical emergency, will they get me to the hospital in time?” Driving 45 minutes to take advantage of the cultural offerings in Maine’s biggest city loses its luster, especially at night. Cleaning a two-story house is a pain in the ass.
And a biggie: Having a lower monthly nut (aka no mortgage) affords us a lot more freedom and flexibility as I consider downshifting my freelance medical writing career and taking Social Security in a few years (Hubs is already there, taking great delight in claiming he’s on “wife support”).
So we found a terrific two-bedroom, two-bath condo—with an office—in an over-55 community. It’s just ten minutes from Portland. All the living space is on one floor. And with the proceeds from selling our house, we could buy it outright.
But the process of moving isn’t easy. In fact, it’s ranked the third most-stressful life situation after death of a loved one and divorce. Even if you’re moving for all good reasons, it completely disrupts your life.
First there’s the purging of stuff. After ten years (the longest I’d lived in one place my entire life), we’d accumulated way too much of said stuff, spreading it out among an attic, basement and two-car garage. Donating, consigning, selling online and trips to the dump helped us pare down significantly. And in the process, you learn that even if certain things have sentimental meaning, getting rid of them doesn’t mean you lose the memories (not yet, anyway).
Then there’s getting your house ready to sell, and keeping it in show condition at all times. We were lucky—our place went under agreement in just over a week, so I could slack off on being a neat freak.
Negotiating with the buyers had its stressful moments (like when, during their final walk-through less than 24 hours before closing, they discovered that the recently installed upstairs toilet had, unbeknownst to us, sprung a leak). But it all worked out.
Then there was the packing. To save money, we did our own—I think it’s in my genes since my grandmother used to work for a moving company, packing up houses. In fact, this was the company we hired to move us, and one of the owners remembered Nana and how she’d bring her portable TV to jobs so she wouldn’t miss her “programs” (soap operas).
Our actual move took place over three days. First, we borrowed a neighbor’s van and moved fragile stuff ourselves. Next, we rented a truck and enlisted the help of our most able-bodied friends (the pool gets smaller at our age) to load and unload kitchen stuff and the guest room furniture. I wanted to get the guest room set up to give the cats a safe place (and a bed to hide under) when the movers arrived on the third day.
It all went quite smoothly. Ironically, the only glitch occurred when the movers carried the very last item off the truck (the treadmill)—and it got stuck in the stairwell to the basement. The trainee on the crew forced it, poking a hole in the wall. Was the universe trying to tell me something?
Then came the unpacking, and the oft-repeated refrain of “Why on earth did we keep this?” I think the prize goes to Hubs’ vice, a 25-pound hunk of metal that had been affixed to his workbench—which remained behind.
Unfortunately (conveniently?), Hubs’ back gave out on our second day here, so I got to do most of the unpacking. But it’s done. And his back is better now.
Now, nearly two months after the move, we’re delighted with the space, the light (our previous home was surrounded by trees) and the proximity to virtually everything. The cats adjusted, too, with little drama and no accidents.
We’ve also reflected on this: Whenever we moved before, we always thought of the transition in terms of going to our next home. But the fact is, this may be our final home—until we’re carried out in a box or need more care. And that’s a sobering thought.
But right now, we’re feeling reborn. Free from yard work, debt and extraneous “stuff.” Closer to new experiences. And immensely satisfied to have come this far.
We did it.
Downsizing is a
moving experience in
more ways than just one.
What about you? Have you downsized? Are you thinking of doing so? What motivates you—or holds you back? Please share…