Our house is sold, and we’ve bought another.
In the next 30 days I will need to pack, sort, store and toss 24 years of living. Fortunately I’ve always been a good tosser-outer, so much of the work has been done already.
There are baby toys that I’ve saved for my children’s (future) children. There are boxes of letters, cards, scrapbooks and yearbooks. There are thousands of photographs, many of them scanned to my computer or saved on a disc – but how can I possibly throw away those original prints, faded and curling at the edges?
There’s my wedding dress, carefully packed away almost 26 years ago. I will say goodbye to it.
There are trophies and mementos. There are delicate, fragile things that came to me from my grandmother when she died. There are too many pieces of costume jewelry. There are hundreds of books. There are dozens of cookbooks – and I rarely cook anymore. There are paint samples and saved receipts. There are mixing bowls, cookie sheets galore, an abundance of Pyrex baking pans, 13” x 9”. There are 2 sets of stainless flatware, 12 place settings each. There are 2 sets of everyday dishes, one set of fine China, 2 sets of 12 place settings of sterling silver flatware, dozens of cloth napkins and at least 10 tablecloths.
We are selling our formal dining room set, so the tablecloths have to go. The problem is, no one wants a formal dining room anymore. But we are hopeful someone will want it.
We are selling a lot of things. Chairs and lamps and a big leather ottoman where we put our feet up at night while we watch TV. Bookshelves and crystal bowls, throw pillows and antique sconces, lovely and delicate and far too formal for our new home near the beach. A California King brown velvet tufted headboard that, 10 years ago, was perfect. Now it’s just not.
Our table and chairs where we ate thousands of meals with our children when they were growing up – it has to go, because the chairs are uncomfortable and the wood is too dark. I imagine that table holds all the words we ever said to each other, mingled with Pledge and spilled spaghetti sauce.
We are unloading and brightening. The colors will be lighter, our possessions fewer, our home smaller. But even as we are lightening up, we are expanding our lives – a new place, a new lifestyle, a new point of view. By downsizing we are increasing everything except square footage and stuff.
I am not feeling sad – yet. The excitement and busyness of buying a new home and all that goes with it are keeping me from thinking about the fact that this house will, in just a few short weeks, no longer be our home. My children, all grown up, are having a harder time than I am. For them this is the place they have always called home, always come back to. I know they’ll love our new house, too – but it will never be their home in the same way.
And it will never be our home in the same way, my husband and me. In our new home we will be on our own in a way we haven’t ever been. We’ll create a new normal, with new memories of midlife. My husband will sit on the front porch and wave at the neighbors as they walk by, our dog next to him. I will join him, sometimes. But not always.
Instead of getting in our car every time we want to go somewhere or do something, we can walk a few blocks and there are restaurants, the bank, boutiques, friends. Why this makes me so happy I’m not sure, but it does.
A half a block and across the street the other way is the ocean. That makes me happy too.
We will let so much go in the next few weeks – sold or stored or recycled or donated – but we are making room for so much new. And we need new. Because even at midlife, there’s the desire for change, for different, for excitement, for challenge. Those are the things that keep us on our toes, keep us feeling energized and hopeful and alive.