When we move from one home to another, we anticipate a learning curve. We expect that waking up those first few days will feel strange in that unfamiliar room, even if it’s in the same bed. We know we’ll have to set up yet one more kitchen.
If the relocation’s purpose is to be near children or grandchildren, we look forward to more active involvement in each other’s lives. If we’ve moved to improve our weather, we might have to swap out our wardrobe. We assume we’ll get to know our neighbors and make new friends.
When I migrated from the Midwest to Florida, I figured in all of that change. But there’s one thing I didn’t quite see coming after residing 36 years in the same house. With different living space, I had to rethink every ordinary habit.
Remember when masks first became a thing? You had to establish a place to keep them so you could get to one quickly before you left the house. Was that in a drawer or on a shelf? Did you stack the masks on a tray, hang them on hooks or throw them on a counter?
Did you don the mask before you left the house so you could check the mirror, or did you grab and go, waiting until you spied another human before fitting the straps from ear to ear? You probably had additional masks stashed in your car, purse, and coat pockets.
I’ve been facing those types of decisions for every single item I own, and let me tell you: it’s exhausting. And on top of choreographing movement within my indoor geography, there’s the entire outdoors. I’m taking not only a new route to the grocery store but becoming acquainted with a different grocery chain altogether.
Since I was starting anew, why try to replicate what went where and in what order I did things? I wanted to determine what should go where and in what order I should do things.
The habits I formed and the way I navigated my spaces in my 30s and 40s may not work as well in my 60s. Bending and reaching aren’t quite as easy, and there are only two of us living in this house – no small children to consider or teens to give input.
So, I have reconsidered everything from what to keep in my desk drawers to where I, the night owl in my partnership, should watch low-volume TV in the wee hours.
Like many challenges, this one has its benefits once you get through it. New patterns exercise the brain, plus years of ingrained habits and resistance to change can keep you from exploring methods that turn out to be more pleasant or efficient.
For example, in my last house I dedicated the prime real estate of a kitchen drawer to nail polishes and other manicure necessities, which I probably began doing when the first of my three daughters entered her teens.
This drawer sat above a larger one that was home to wrapping paper, bows and ribbons – supplies I wanted to keep at easy reach for the constant stream of birthday parties the kids attended, along with various other occasions that required gifts.
By the time I moved, both drawers looked much the same as they had for 30 years, even though these needs could no longer justify a claim to such prominent space. In my new home, I’m stocking just a few shades of nail polish in the bathroom and storing a roll or two of wrapping paper in a back room closet.
I’m discovering that much of the change is driven by the layout of my new space. So many large rugs, so few big rooms! And our current house lacks a linen closet.
My daughter pointed out that we don’t really need one anyway – we’re as much hotel as house now. Since the extra bedrooms are for visitors, even when they’re family members, she suggested that we keep each room’s linens in that room’s closet. Makes sense!
With a living room much smaller than our last one, the piano just didn’t fit. So, my office has become home to the piano, and the unexpected result is that now I actually sit down and play. In the living room in our other house, the piano seemed invisible and sat idle almost all the time.
After I unload each box and determine where the objects should go, maybe my decisions will be permanent and maybe they won’t. Gradually, getting used to living in this house, I may find that I made mistakes.
I’m especially shaky on spots for books, mirrors, artwork, and framed photos. And if anyone has ideas for where to put four somewhat tacky and altogether creepy harlequin dolls we displayed in our previous foyer wall niche, I’m listening!
Have you recently moved to a new home? What were your reasons? What’s different in this new home from your old one? Are you arranging your things as you did before or in new ways? Please share your strategy!
Tags Downsizing Your Life