In my last post I wrote about making changes in our lives and how a pendulum swings from one side to the other until it eventually finds equilibrium – a metaphor for how things go in life situations sometimes.
My wife and I find ourselves at a transitional point in our lives entering a new, sometimes scary but mostly exciting phase. Having been “empty nesters” for almost a year, with our last kid in college now, we’ve been thinking about what we want life ahead to look like and things are starting to happen. The biggest change is downsizing. We are selling the house we’ve lived in with our kids for the last 8 years and buying a much smaller house nearby. A little history. We first met in 2005, got married and blended two single-parent families in 2006. For the first two years of our lives together we lived in my wife’s small, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. We ended up putting an addition on the house with a master bathroom, in order to make it work when the three boys were with us, which was every other weekend and one or two nights during the week. In 2008 that house inevitably became too small for us because the kids were growing up and getting bigger and the house just gradually seemed smaller and smaller. We made a move to a nearby 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath house. To fill and outfit this new and bigger house, of course we had to buy more furniture. We fixed up the backyard to have two separate entertaining areas. That meant we needed furniture out there too. We bought exercise equipment for the inside to have our own mini-gym at home. Because we had a much larger driveway and front walk, eventually I needed a snowblower. You get the idea – a period of building and acquiring.
So here we are, about two months away from back-to-back settlements, selling our big, 5 bedroom house in exchange for a small and quaint 2 bedroom house with virtually no yard and no driveway or walkway to remove snow from. Yup we have a lot of stuff to get rid of – a lot! But this post isn’t really about acquiring and purging. It’s more about how it feels to be turning this corner in the direction of the next phase in our lives. Frankly, it’s a mixed bag of feelings. I feel a little sad about leaving this house where so many fun (and difficult) things happened – basketball in the driveway, bonfires and graduation parties in the back yard, movie and pizza nights, struggling alongside the kids with their massive amounts of homework, SAT test preparation, etc. Because I lost my job during the recession in 2008, I had to work with the bank to not lose this house. I feel pride in accomplishing that, so leaving here makes me feel a sense of real loss for something I fought so hard to keep. I do, however, also feel excited to move into a home better suited to what life looks like today and tomorrow. And, if I’m being really honest, I feel a little odd about being in this stage of life – 55 years-old focusing on both my career and retirement planning all at the same time while moving into a house designed mostly for just the two of us, not the five of us.
Selling and buying homes this time around has not been easy. Tons of details, inspections and remediation, appraisals and mortgage applications, long nights and frustrating days. I’ve described it to some of my friends as a roller coaster ride. The highs have been really high and the lows have been pretty low. I’m ready for the end of the ride and for things to just settle down some. The good news is I think I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Despite this range of emotions, I think I am now ready to turn the corner and see what the road ahead looks like for the next phase of our journey. I look forward to seeing some of you along the way.