Just about exactly a year ago I wrote a post called "Downsizing: a difference of opinion". I talked about our big house, our eight kids grown and gone, icy stairs and driveways to fall on, and the "stuff" we've accumulated. You can read that blog post here.
A lot remains the same now, a year later. But there are changes in the wind.
When we got back from Tucson in April, after five months away, we were very aware of how much the traffic has increased in the Seattle. How many apartments are being built, without a corresponding expansion of the road system. Real estate values are sky high - "a new Silicon Valley" is one description I've heard - and some people have even been priced out of the rental market, contributing to the homeless situation. In the parking lot of my church there are nine spaces reserved at night for women - with or without children - living in their cars. We provide a safe place to sleep and shower.
It doesn't feel much like home here now.
So I started exploring the possibility of a move. At first I looked at downsizing to a smaller house in this area, or a condo, but it's all expensive. Then I thought about an apartment for a year or so. Art and I looked at several and found one we like. But we'd have to sign a 13-month lease even though we'd be gone for five months of that time. And the apartment rent is a bit higher than our mortgage! Also, parking is an issue, as are roads getting to the complex from the congested freeway. Still, it's an option.
Then we began talking about a full-time move to Tucson. We already have our little place there, furnished and equipped with everything we need and want. And, close by in the same 55+ resort are manufactured homes, quite a bit larger and much, much cheaper than anything here in Washington.
We could do that. In the current housing market our place would sell quickly and for almost four times as much as we paid for it 23 years ago. But we'd have to get rid of our "stuff" - if not before we put the house on the market, then before escrow closed six weeks later and we had to move.
I called Rhys, a real estate agent who goes to my church. He came over for a walkthrough. We were encouraged, though daunted by the magnitude of the getting-ready-to-sell part. He recommended a friend who is a decluttering coach. I made an appointment. Penni came over today and spent two hours with us.
Oh, my goodness. She had fabulous ideas. A strategy to help Art overcome his reluctance to rehoming or disposing of his possessions. A suggested order for doing things, and which of us would be responsible for what. By the time she left, Art was smiling and so was I.
With this plan in place, Art and I have committed to work on "right sizing" for two hours a day. It will take the time it takes. It will take calling 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and hiring someone to go to the dump multiple, multiple times, and putting a "free" sign in the parking areas, and donating to Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity, and asking family and friends if they want anything, and finding a company that does estate sales.
Most likely our house won't go on the market until next spring. But when I made that prognostication to Art tonight he said, "Maybe sooner."
My May 30 post was called "Drenched in Privilege." I wrote it after a day in Olympia, the state capital, serving as a "peace keeper" for protesters in the Poor People's Campaign. My first-ever protest participation.
Usually I get about 300 "hits" on my blog posts, and most of them happen in the first four or five days. The May 30 post has gotten 913 as of today. Astonishing!
I think what's happened is that people are sharing the post from Facebook, because my blog posts go there too. I'm guessing that my thoughts on privilege - something I apparently have but didn't realize it until a couple of years ago - are waking up other people like me. I hope it's not because the rest of the world is laughing at how clueless I have been.
I've seen the word "woke" more often in the last few weeks than before, and I think it means we're becoming awakened or aware of situations around us that we never thought much about before. And I think that's where change will happen.
I've got some other changes going on right now:
Thinking about selling our Washington house and living small. That means getting rid of 23 years of stuff.
Planning for just the two of us in our household again, after several years of offspring tenants.
Becoming more aware of LGBTQ issues as a result of the coming out of people I know.
And oh, you know, those aging issues.
I like to think I'm open to change. I guess what's really the case is I'm open to SOME change. Especially the kind of change I choose myself. The change I don't choose is a little harder.
I wonder how many of the 913 are having similar thoughts.
Here's another change. How did it ever happen that I got old enough to have two grandchildren graduating from high school?