You may have a similar ritual — you wake up, grab a coffee and head to your favorite spot to greet the sunrise or clear your head. For me, I do all that while I open my laptop in anticipation of the new real estate listings on Zillow.
You see I am ready for a new house or apartment. On the water, walk to town, bathed in light, I want to move. Move on. Downtown Boston, suburban Weston, Newport, Plymouth, Marblehead are examples of the places I picture myself. My closets are cleaned out and the kids’ rooms have been converted to guest rooms. I’ve been preparing for many years.
The new house will be the fresh start that burns within me, although not intended to extinguish the tender memories of raising our beloved kids here. It will be a reset, a return to high noon on life’s biological clock. I don’t want to be stagnant in one place, paralyzed with the notion of simply growing older. Right now, it feels like 7:00 p.m. when I walk my neighborhood of almost 30 years, much too close to the darkness of midnight.
In our new home our “young adult” children will have enough space to visit and spend the night. It will allow storage to accommodate the copious boxes of childhood memorabilia and the hundreds of photographs from the 50’s – 90’s that remain stuck in the Kodak era.
Having tallied over 5 years of searching and too many open houses to count, my Zillow fixation has extended into evenings. Our kids ask, “When are you pulling the plug?” Their worlds have distinctly changed. They are happy with their jobs, mates and joyfully living in various cool spots across the U.S.A.
When they grew up, they literally and figuratively spread their wings. The pages of their passports are well inked and they are TSA pre-check savvy.
What keeps me here now that the kids have flown the nest? What keeps me on Zillow day after day? I look to children’s book author, P. D. Eastman, to help explain in The Best Nest. It starts with “Mr. Bird was happy” as he declares, “I love my house. I love my nest. In all the world my nest is best!” Until Mrs. Bird tells him otherwise. Will this be my forever mantra? Why is this next step so confusing?
My former camp friend, Anne, tells me about her neighbor who for 25 years tells everyone she’s moving any day, but never does. They call her the “crazy” neighbor. When I hear that, I decide to stop telling my neighbors I have any thoughts of moving.
Should I remain with my community of friends and acquaintances who have supported me for over 30 years? It’s here that I walk around like George Bailey shouting,”Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!” at everything that is familiar. Or move to parts unknown, where we have no community. And for what end? To experience a change, to challenge myself? Some days that feels like the right solution to a problem I’ve clearly invented. Other days I’m so happy to be where I am comfortable and where everything and everyone I know and love is right here. Either way, my husband tells me, our kids are not moving back.
And either way, it’s time to redecorate this old house.