Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No Small Change

                                         Photo by Chris Lighty

Well, we moved. After twenty-two years in one location, we have changed our lives completely. It was a bit of a stretch to think of ourselves as city mice, being that Coeur d' Alene was a small town when we moved up to Idaho from Northern California. Nevertheless, we were downtown in a lovely neighborhood known affectionately as Sander's Beach. Full of handsome historic homes, close to the water, close to parks, close to the library, close to downtown, it was close to everything. Our home, built in 1920, with an addition put on in the seventies, had enough old world charm to suit us and it was a great place for kids, dogs, family and fun. What changed? Our lives did.

Once our daughter left for college, the character of the house seemed transformed. Suddenly it seemed too big, too expensive, too time consuming, too too. We knew we would have to downsize eventually and since I didn't like the idea of that looming before us, it seemed like a good time to get on with it. Plus, my husband declared that he would not deny himself the life long dream of a shop, one minute longer. That became the criteria: we needed something smaller that came with a shop that I would eventually grow to love.

Why is a home a place to hang one's hat for some, and nearly a religion for others? While I fall into the latter category, I must say I come by it honestly. It was gut wrenching to pull the old place apart, make endless decisions about what to keep and what to discard, but with a steadfast effort, we boxed up the sum total of our accumulated artifacts and toted them off to storage. Loading up the units became the great pleasure at the end of the day. It is far easier for me to fill a space than empty one, so I liked that part of the process. Seeing possessions wrapped and boxed gave me a picture of the size and scope of it all. Most of the objects were not even mine to begin with; they fell into my care through my mother who had a very good eye. So the question as to why I was keeping one cute tea cup after another begged to be asked, but could not be answered. As long as I can remember, the tendency to ascribe sentiment to objects is bred in the bone.

  I also liked spaces where my Dad would claim a modicum of freedom from what he described as, the land of “birds and flowers.” He set up a desk in the boathouse at our summer home and had a phone put in as well. A fridge where he kept a fresh supply of fishing bait for me, and cokes for him, made it comfortable. Every part of the boathouse was ship shape and unadorned. Our towels were on wracks with names stenciled above. Lines on top of wooden boats were gleaming white and perpetually coiled; it was the navy man's equivalent of a shop. He was happy in the boathouse and escaped to it often. I am so glad to know that my husband has his 'boathouse,' a place that is his.

Once through the looking glass, we are more than pleasantly surprised. We are ecstatic. Our new home is wonderful and we love it! We have left the life of city mouse behind and now dwell in the country. The site is beautiful, up high overlooking woods with a stunning view of the lake. It is peaceful and blissfully quiet. We have all new conversations. We each have room to pursue our hobbies, and we also are surrounded by countless birds of such varying species, I am going to need a field guide. It all makes sense to me now. In the midst of this honeymoon period, a post card arrived in our old, tin mailbox. My husband saw that it was a real estate advertisement about a home just sold in Sander's Beach. When he turned it over to look at the picture, he was shocked to see our former home. Showing this to me,  I found a curious distance had set in. Yes, it was familiar, but no longer attached to me. 

Change is supposed to be good for us, particularly as we age. While I questioned the wisdom of this through the move, I now know that the old adage is true. Of all the books I read in my youth, nothing cemented itself to my psyche more than Henry David Thoreau's, Walden Pond.

Born in 1817 and living until May of 1862, Thoreau kept company with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Branson Alcott, Walt Whitman and Hawthorne who were  known as the writers and philosophers of  the Transcendentalist movement.  It was no surprise, therefore, that these works found a very popular resurgence with the burgeoning hippie crowd. Thoreau is described as an author,  poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist and tax resistor. What a heady mixture! It was his love of nature that struck a cord with me, his idea to live out on Walden Pond, soaking up the peace and beauty. It was this line of his that I took very much to heart and it is perhaps why I feel so much at home now:

" I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."


Jennifer Rova said...

I have a friend who was a pastor's wife. They moved often from one small TX town to another, dogs, cat, and three children. As they pulled out of the old parsonage, she lamented the activities and friends she was leaving. About half way to the new home, she began to get excited about what the new appointment would mean. She practiced Thoreau's advice--to gain the most of every experience. Make lemonade from lemons.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Yes, that is good advice. Perhaps I have always been a moving on girl. Thanks.

Jenni Gate said...

Happy housewarming, Elizabeth!

I am finding as I age that each move is harder, especially if I have to leave old friends behind and make new friends. Hopefully, you are still close enough to see old friends on occasion.

Your new place sounds lovely. And it sounds like you're already embracing your new life. I hope you become a master at living deliberately in your new home. :)

Brooke said...

A lovely piece, Liz. We received the same postcard forwarded to Ottawa (!). We were going to save it for you. LOL
"As long as I can remember, the tendency to ascribe sentiment to objects is bred in the bone." Yes, I know how that is.
We look forward to seeing you in your new, happy surroundings.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you Jenni and Brooke. I hope to see you both here soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz,
Loved your post! Change and stepping outside ones comfort zone is scary but exciting. Congratulations! Your new place sounds so peaceful and beautiful. We all need to move more often to get rid of stuff! Best wishes to you both!

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

Very glad to have you as my 'wooded' neighbor ! Good post !