Thursday, January 30, 2014

There Be Dragons, Continued: It's Not the Weather

"Wait until spring to decide!  You'll feel differently about everything then.  It's been a terrible winter..."

This is what people have been saying when they hear that my spouse and I are planning to move to a retirement community.  And the weather probably does have something to do with precipitating this  decision, but only a very little something.

I was already thinking about it a year ago, when I wrote a post in which I wondered how much longer I would be able to keep up my fantasy of the self-sufficient life.  I thought about it last fall, when I was incapacitated for weeks with shingles, and again in December, when my husband and I both came down with epic colds.  And I first thought about it two years ago, on the January night when  my husband developed severe chest pains.  It wasn't a heart attack--he's fine--but we didn't know that as we waited an hour for the ambulance to reach us, and then raced forty-five-minutes to the hospital.

The fact is, we're isolated on our little hill, and not just from services and stores (I once drove forty-five minutes to buy a spool of brown thread).  When you don't have a job or a child or a church to jump-start your social life, it takes more energy than I have to manufacture one from scratch. The last nine years have offered me a solitude that Thomas Merton would have envied.  But despite my eremitic tendencies, I am no Thomas Merton.

Of course the prospect of disposing of tables and chairs and file cabinets and my beloved old canning jars so that we and the dogs can fit into a two-bedroom cottage makes me groan, but waiting another five years wouldn't make the task more palatable.  And it would be downright awful to have to do it under pressure of illness.  Since it's clear that we cannot remain on our hilltop forever, it makes sense to do it while it's easier than it will ever be.

As for where we'll end up, we'd like it to be in Vermont.  We're far too fond of its fields and woods and calmly grazing cows;  its billboard-free, mostly empty roads;  its herbalists and bee-keepers and philosopher-farmers; its unapologetic granola attitude.

We'd hate to leave all that behind--not to mention the good friends we've made.  And we'd miss the winters.

(To be continued.)


15 comments :

  1. I'm filled with admiration. Just please continue to write.

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  2. this is an epic decision. epic. though "two-bedroom cottage" sounds immediately appealing. would you still have a yard? some sort of garden? i would never second guess your decision. i know you are thinking hard.

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  3. Yes! Some dirt is essential to my mental health--just not our present 18 acres of it. So we'll have a wee garden, which I'm sure I'll immediately try to enlarge and grow food on.

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  4. This is the kind of thing I think about a lot, as you know. If it weren't for my son living just up the road, I'd never be able to stay here. Good point about the act of moving not being any easier five years from now.

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  5. I can empathize with the downsizing. Moving to 450 square feet (it helps that we have a view of the ocean) from a four bedroom was tough, but good to decide what goes where now and not leave it all for someone else. Amazing how much you do not need :-)

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    1. OMG, 450 sq ft! Will you be my downsizing guru?

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  6. I think about this too, even though I live in the city and probably always will live in the city, a block away from the fire station and 5 minutes from a tertiary care ER. My parents live a block south of me and I know they will want to stay in their (3000 square foot 3 story) house as long as possible. The city makes it easier...even if they have to move down to one floor for the most part in the end.

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    1. The city does make it easier, as does having family nearby, and a community you've been a part of for a long time.

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  7. My husband and I have no regrets downsizing from 3000 to 1300 sq ft and wish we had done it sooner. I only suffer from the lack of storage in the kitchen. Best of luck!

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  8. Lack of kitchen storage sounds to me like a good reason to do less cooking...

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  9. "When you don't have a job or a child or a church to jump-start your social life, it takes more energy than I have to manufacture one from scratch." I can agree with that.

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  10. You are slowly convincing me this is a good move for you. :-)

    We thought we might be moving across the country (still might, but probably not) and I was looking for houses with *more* space.

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  11. I can well understand the desire for more space at your stage in life. The kids will be coming home and bringing friends with them for years yet, and then there will be grandchildren. That's how we ended up in a house with seven (small) bedrooms!

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