moving to the lake house, a summer reverie
I thought our home on a beautiful hill was where we would retire, surrounded by trees, wildlife, and grandchildren. However, life took a curious turn in 2021. After a round of Covid 19 and troubling political unrest, we decided to seize the day and move closer to our daughter and her family. I abhor moving, but family is a priority. With interest rates so low and our home’s increased equity, it was suddenly an easy decision.
At the time, I was a little low. I felt somehow as if we had been just waiting to retire, and the constant negative clamor from the outside world was depressing. In retrospect, I think we missed both the literal and figurative sun.
So, with our future retirement and extended family visits in mind, we started the search for a new home. A lot of thought went into what kind of home, what size, what amenities or must haves. We wanted a smaller home, but nicer.
We also realized it was the perfect time to fulfill a lifelong dream of living near the water. With renewed vision, both of us focused on finding a lake house.
While we looked at houses near our daughter over a series of weekends, I started packing our large home into boxes. My husband and I also cleaned up the yard and painted walls. Our dingy deck got a new lease on life too, so we could put our hilltop home on the market. In its entirety, the refresh and repair list was long, detailed, and ultimately, labor intensive. To our dismay, we found that contractors were scarce in our small town and caught up in the spring building surge, so our dilemma was a do-it-yourself must. Ug, do it all ourselves?
In the back of my mind I wondered, “How are we going to do this by ourselves in this time frame?”
Just in case anyone has forgotten, moving your entire household to a new town and while painting and repairing both houses is not for the faint of heart. This fifty something Grandma required constant attitude adjustment.
If you haven’t done it in a while, trust me, you may have forgotten how difficult and stressful it can be. I have moved around thirty times in my life, so I am pretty good at sorting, packing, storing, and unpacking. However, I dreaded the process this time since it also involved so much home improvement on both ends.
And, I felt…old-er. My husband loves to say “Tragedy plus time equals humor.” It wasn’t at all humorous at the time, but for some reason I keep smiling at my own exhaustion in those early months.
When we were tired and needed a break, we encouraged ourselves with discussion about our lakeside dream. To refill our depleted energy stores, we imagined our lake views and fishing, grandkids, new restaurants, more things to do, seeing our daughter and son in law on a regular basis. With every box packed, our small town faded into our rear view.
We started out with a bang, and whipped the hilltop house into shape quickly working most waking hours for two weeks. Then, I started packing in earnest. Initially, I kept it orderly, well organized, and methodical, but eventually when faced with the sheer amount of accumulation of stuff, it was overwhelming. I had to talk myself into every days list after those first few weeks.
On the bright side, I started early and committed to the process, kept things moving forward at a steady pace.
Then we found the actual physical lakeside dream on a Sunday and had a clear goal to work towards. So, at first the move was positive and exciting, but I let the deadlines create stress.
With a clear understanding of how difficult it would be, we had someone move our heavy furniture, but we did the packing. I say a clear understanding, but it was still too much. After weeks of packing the garage, kitchen, china cabinet, framed photos, art, and a multitude of outdoor and hidden in the closet items, I gave up the sorting. In a frenzy of get it done in preparation for the movers, I had to tear through the final mess and just pack what remained in front of me.
As a personal habit, I declutter on a regular basis and regularly donate items, but even though I sorted as I packed, but I didn’t pare down enough.
Now, here I sit in my new place with piles of things waiting in the garage that need to be unpacked and sorted further.
As they slowly come out of the sort, our streamlined and pared down things also need a location in our new place. Where for instance, do I put the gift wrapping items, or the collection of pilot glasses? And those boxes of photographs? Choosing permanent homes in our new home for our various pursuits and possessions is a process.
My excruciatingly slow pace at this point in the process is a daily toss up. I hover between overwhelmed and gratified. Smiling while puttering away as I turn our house into a home this morning, our new house felt homey and warm.
I have tossed the old clothing, the broken this and that, donated countless items. However, some things I have had so long, they are back in style and I am not talking about clothing. The color camel for instance is suddenly de rigueur. As a reduce, reuse, recycle kind of girl, I’ve kept many linens and random useful furniture, dishes, rugs, and tools and gave them new life. But, now I am faced with multiple decisions just from opening a single box of items.
What do I keep? Should I toss this thing-a-ma-bob? Where can I donate this lovely whats-it? Exactly what is THIS item?
Then, even more perplexing, where do I put what remains? Reminds me of the comedian who said, “You can’t have everything, where would you put it?”
Years ago, to make moving as a military family easier, I started a “decluttering, reducing, condensing, and letting go” project that is ongoing. But, since my husband and I have been together for over three decades, we had, and much to my chagrin, still have, a lot of weight in the home department.
When we move, we carry with us photo collections and mementos from our deceased parents and grandparents, a few of their treasures, stuff for entertaining our extended family at the holidays, some furniture from the past twenty years, my art, rugs, tools, lawn equipment, instruments, art supplies, and on and on.
To be honest, I didn’t know exactly what we needed to keep for the new place. We only saw the house for 45 minutes on a Sunday and made the offer that day due to the housing shortage. I’m thankful the house fit most of our criteria perfectly, but I couldn’t remember much about the sizes of the rooms and feel of the spaces. Good thing I had a lot of photographs to give me some idea of how to prepare.
We did reduce our books before we moved to the ones we read over and over or had not read yet and donated the rest. I went through our closets and donated clothing. Together, we also tossed and sorted our way through the garage, the kitchen, our bedrooms, the family room, media space, and the grandkids’ rooms.
My favorite decluttering adage is “Keep only the best, donate the rest.”
With that in mind, I left furniture on the curb and gave away random items. But, there will be more. I am not done. With all of the letting go, cleaning out and decluttering, moving our stuff into our new smaller space is time consuming.
At times, this particular mountain seems to be more than I can handle. This house is 900 square feet smaller and has less bedrooms, less family room space, and a much smaller dining room. I am squeezing things into smaller spaces. At the same time, I want less of a cluttered footprint. More open wall space, clean rooms, lots of white walls and clear surfaces.
In fact, I have resisted bringing anything inside. It is almost laughable.
You might ask, why did we choose a smaller home that our furniture barely fits and forces this mass purge of stuff?
It was the lake.
When we saw the lake across the street, we were smitten. Standing on the screen porch on the front side in the breeze created a bonding moment. In retrospect, we had always wanted to live on a lake, and the view was beautiful. We sighed several times before we walked in the house. Then, there was the pool and the screened in porch on the back side of the house. Are you kidding me? Screened outdoor spaces in this subtropical climate are a must, but toss in the pool and I was sold.
Now, from our perch inside the front screened in porch, we can watch the geese and listen to the sounds of the lake. The gentle lapping of the water on the shoreline and occasional loon calls just suck the stress right out of my body.
With the lake out front and a pool out back, our new home’s location and amenities trumps our previous square footage. This house makes moving chaos, body aches and pains, clutter mania, and my current sorting exhaustion something that time will heal.
So, this too shall pass.
In the meantime, I will let it unfold…
Barefoot, listening to the lake, and sorting,
A favorite that I need to re read is Letting go of stacks of stuff.s