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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

I’m Staying Where I Am

The kids moved out. My husband and I are retired. It’s time to do a bit of traveling. But most of the time, we’re here. For us, there is no financial, health, or familial push to move to our next residence.

There is no good reason for us to downsize like other sensible people in our stage of life. Here are my convoluted thoughts on the matter as I arrived at the title of this article.

1. There is absolutely nowhere to sit where I am not looking at something in this house that needs attention. From dust bunny evacuation to scrubbing ten miles of baseboards, I could easily make cleaning a full-time job. It’s been three years now, so when does the retirement part actually happen? Maybe if we went someplace smaller, there would be less cleaning and maintenance? Maybe we should move.

2. I’ve been reading about Swedish death cleaning. It’s very scary. The idea is to go through everything I own with an eye to seriously decluttering and leaving only the things I really use and enjoy. It’s a nice theory, but I might open up a can of worms. If I take every single thing out of the garage, for example, I will also have to clean out the decaying insulation, scrub and paint the floor, and possibly cause all the bikes hanging on the wall to cascade onto my body. This will give me new health issues in addition to the ones I’m actively trying to ignore. No. Work begets work. No homeowner has ever done a job that did not lead to five other jobs. I’m trying to avoid working around the house. Going minimalistic will give me more work to do.

3. Moving is work. I can’t imagine what it would be like to pack this operation up. Then I’d arrive somewhere new and have to unpack, pick out new paint colors and hire a painter, put up new window treatments that I have to shop for, clean the previous owner’s hidden messes, hang pictures, and have to learn where to buy all the new things I’ll need in this new home. On top of this, there will be a brand-new population of dust bunnies, we will still need to eat and generate dirty dishes, and the new bathrooms will still need cleaning. And on top of everything, I have to hire a moving crew. Why would I want to move?

4. Let me take a stroll down memory lane. Our very first apartment together was in Brooklyn, on the top floor of my grandmother’s house. We had a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom without a shower, a tiny room that held the only closet, the loveseat that we couldn’t fit in the living room, and a very small desk. We had a bedroom with a big archway but no door. We lived there for nine months as we saved for a house and got on each other’s nerves. There was nowhere to go where I didn’t hear the drone of the TV as I tried to read. There was nowhere for me to go to talk on the phone without injecting the conversation into the middle of the currently playing TV show. This memory leads me to believe that a one-bedroom condo-type situation would cause one of us to become a murderer. We are people who need personal space.

5. It is now three houses later. I have an office. There’s a basement space set aside for art projects and jigsaw puzzles in progress. We’ve got a very functional, if not state-of-the-art kitchen. LOL! Like I need a state-of-the-art kitchen! We have a cozy family room for watching TV and a living room/dining room for the many times we have friends and family over. We’ve got a carless garage- carless because we use it for storing our stockpile of Costco purchases and recycling cans. The cars can live happily ever after in the driveway. One former bedroom is the guestroom for the grandchildren, and it’s where I read late into the night without my light being a bother. We have another spare room that has been used as a pandemic classroom, the holder of off-season clothing, a home gym (another LOL), and a storage facility for our younger daughter until she and her wife get a bigger apartment. We’ve got a big backyard (and a lawn service), a pool- which was the overriding reason why we bought this house instead of the sensible ranch a short distance away, and a wonderful, covered porch in the front of the house. We sit out there so much the neighbors think we’re part of the yard.

6. No, it’s not sensible for two people to live in a house built for a whole family. I neglected to mention that this habitat is a split level. No matter where you want to go, you will have at least half a flight of stairs in your path. Is that a good thing for a 60-something with arthritic knees? Nope. It’s a lot of house to heat and air condition. We just had to replace the hot water heater after we cleaned up the 50 gallons of water on the floor. The bay window in the kitchen is sagging. The replacement costs what?! The deck needs rehab and there’s a hole in the floor of the shed. The pool demands a constant diet of very expensive chemicals. How much will all this upkeep cost?

7. I force myself to reread paragraph 3. And then 2, 4, and 5. Then I must think clearly. I can either pay for upkeep, or I can pay for a mover, new things for a new house, and a hefty commission to a realtor. I have to clean, pack, unpack, clean, shop, do new house projects, and then do all the normal routine things in the new house that I will have to do here. Nobody gets to buy a new home knowing there will be no expensive surprises. All houses breed surprises.

Decision time. I love my home. I am grateful for the things I have here. While I am not particularly grateful for the expenses and work, I think that’s just part of life. As for those pesky stairs, I’d probably have to get my knees replaced anyway. I’m staying right here.

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