This was my 26th move.
Can we just end the story right there? Because I’m exhausted.
Seriously though, in my defense, ten of those moves were as a child. Totally out of my control. I’m responsible for the others, which were nearly all a trading-up situation. Okay, maybe I’m justifying just a bit.
But this last move was different. It was the first time I downsized for the sake of lifestyle, and I really hope this is my last move (knock on wood I didn’t just jinx myself…again). I was in over my head at the townhouse. Not financially, but physically. Maintenance-wise I was drowning in to-do lists, and some of it was beyond my physical capability. But I tried. I’m not one to hire people to do things for me that I should be able to do, so I really tried!
I bought the townhouse with a fenced yard for Grace, the dog who stole my heart, and left my tiny condo in a coded entry building. I loved that little third-floor condo. I’m a scaredy cat, so all that security was just my style. The deck overlooking the greenway was the perfect perch on summer evenings, and it was close to work. Oh, and I had great neighbors.
There wasn’t much not to like. Until there was.
The stairs. The stairs! I was fine with no elevator until I adopted Miss Grace who needed to go out four times a day. Each and every day. Let’s do the math: two flights of stairs four times per day for walking and potty breaks, once per day just for coming home from work, and if there was grocery shopping, a Target trip, dinner, whatever, that added another hike up the stairs. It added up to too many stairs. My legs were screaming!
So began my search for a first-floor condo, or if I could get so lucky, a townhouse with a first-floor master. This would be the last move I ever made, the place where I would grow old, so a first-floor master was a must.
My Realtor is the best, because after more than a year and one cancelled contract, I’m pretty sure most agents would have dumped me. But he didn’t, and one day I happened upon a detached townhouse with a first-floor master that was so incredibly different, full of character and quirk, that I said “I really like this place.” Realtor Rick said “really?”
That still makes me laugh! After all the beautiful places I looked at, the 1970s Cape Cod style, cottage-like townhouse is what caught my eye. And the best part was that it had a little fenced yard. Yes M’am, Miss Grace would have her very own yard!
So I moved to the shire, as I called it. Sometimes I affectionately called it the hobbit village. There were 172 units in groups of two, a few singles not attached at all, spread over 42 wooded and hilly acres with red brick streets and painted bridges. So when I say hobbit village, I mean it in the most beautiful, enchanting sense.
The community was lovely and the neighbors friendly, there was a community garden, a pool, and folks actually attended the monthly association meetings in a civil manner.
It was Shangri-La! Until it wasn’t.
The yard was much like I picture an English countryside garden. I don’t know a thing about English countryside gardens, but this is how I imagine them: lush blooming bushes and flowers everywhere, overgrown and wild, with a small clearing in the center where one would stand and enjoy the engulfing beauty whilst a butterfly lights upon one’s shoulder.
That’s how the little yard presented itself, so of course I set out to make it a proper yard. A place for Grace to frolic, run her zoomies, fetch a ball I might toss. A place for patio furniture where I would read a book, enjoy a cold beverage on a warm summer day, maybe even have a fire pit for cooler evenings in the Fall.
Well that turned out to be a whole lot of work. More work than I ever imagined, and more work than my body could handle. I got that yard into pretty good shape, but I also ended up with a shoulder injury. I’m attending weekly physical therapy sessions as I type.
And to add insult to quite literal injury, Grace didn’t give a hoot about the yard. It was months before she would even step foot in it without being coaxed and at my side. By year two, she would do her business in the yard in the event of an emergency—if we were having a hurricane—but only if I held an umbrella over her. She never warmed up to the yard, which means the yard that jammed my shoulder and had become the bane of my existence was not serving any useful purpose. I couldn’t even enjoy it for the mosquitoes that came as a package deal with the shire.
I’m pretty headstrong, but I’ll say Uncle, throw in the towel, tap out when I know I’m beat. So off I went with Realtor Rick again, looking at potential homes for me and my city slicker dog. This time I did a lot of online browsing and actually only looked at three condos in person before I found the one. Much to Rick’s relief, I’m sure.
I settled on a security coded building, third-floor condo (see a theme here?), and this time with an elevator. Oh Toto, we’re home!
It’s been just three weeks, and I’m still getting settled, but there are things I didn’t realize I missed until I got them back.
First, the dumpster. I’m serious. I loathed having to drag the trash, recycle, and yard waste containers to the curb every week, rain or shine. It was a long haul over tree roots, rocks, and all manner of things you would find in a hobbit village. Not fun. Now, every time I take a bag of trash to the dumpster, I do a little happy dance in my mind because that trash is presto-change-o out of my life! It’s not going to sit in a bin outside my kitchen door stinking up the place (remember, I have a dog), and I don’t have to drag it all across the land on trash day. The dumpster is a magical thing!
Most importantly, I missed the sunrise and the sunset. I didn’t realize that living in a little forest would mean that I would seldom see these things, but it makes perfect sense. There was no visible horizon because it was blocked by trees in every direction. Yes, it was beautiful in its own right, but I learned that the sun and the horizon are incredibly important to me.
I got teary the first night in my new condo when I looked out the living room window and saw a blaze orange sky as the sun turned in for the evening. The next week I watched the sunrise while walking Miss Grace and my heart skipped a beat. I never knew how deeply a painted sky would touch my soul.
I learned some things about myself while living in a copse of trees, namely that I’m a no-fuss, hands-off kind of homeowner. That security and a short commute are also on my list. Those are the things I needed to reclaim my time and my health.
But mostly, it turns out I really needed to see the sky.