There are things in life that I’ve expected to be certain or unchanging – maybe not “forever”, but for a lot longer than they have turned out to be.
I’m getting a little tiny bit better at rolling with the punches. Well, at least in my own opinion. On good days. When the sun’s out.
When I bought our “big” house 10 years ago, my plan was to stay there. I wasn’t married at the time, but I imagined raising my family there, watching my kids play in the back yard. It’s a two-family home, so the thought occurred to me that there was enough space to share with family members as we all grew older. Or, we could bring the home back to its original glory as a turn-of-the-century single family home for us to enjoy all together.
My husband (first boyfriend, then fiance) and I lived in 700 square feet there for about six years. When our family expanded, so did our space when we moved into the larger of the two apartments at 1,300 square feet. We lived there for two and a half years before our plans took us out of the area and into the small house we have now.
When we finally moved to Keene (I swear – for the last time!), my plan was to be a landlord from afar. After all, I have almost 10 years’ experience now, a budget, and a bit of gumption. I found a respectable, professional, employed tenant to take over our apartment with her self-imposed one-year lease. I could rest easy for a little while.
Yes yes yes, I know – I hear you laughing already!
You can tell it didn’t turn out that way. Within two weeks, I’m getting calls asking for changes to the terms of her lease, a tangle of unhappiness over situations that have no relation at all to me, the house or anything that I have control over.
But instead of shaking my fist at the sky, shouting, “WHY is this happening to me?!” (which I admittedly wanted to do for about 30 seconds), I began to ask the question: What does this mean for me?
It didn’t take me but a few minutes of introspection to figure out that it means another step in the letting go process. And this time, it means letting go of the house. The place that I had called home for an entire decade, loved with my heart and my pocketbook, and hadn’t planned on giving up. Another (big) step in our downsizing process.
The house represented a type of security for me. What if this small house living business, away from our established friendships, away from our family, doesn’t work? What if my husband’s business doesn’t take off? What if we don’t like each other after being in such a small space? No worries – we always have the old house to go back to, the familiarity of our old neighborhood, the comfort of our favorite coffee shop, our (comparatively) immense amounts of space.
The other side of these revelations was that I had been limiting myself by thinking, “What will we do if we need to move back here and we don’t have this house?” Which is another way of saying: no new experience could be better than the one I’ve already had.
Right. So the truth is, I wasn’t jumping into our new life with both feet. I was dabbing my toes in the water all the time pretending I was swimming. And now, it was becoming clear that I needed to dive in and get my hair wet.
So now, instead of kicking back in our small home, I’m in real estate mode: we are selling our house.
This will be the first letting go decision in our downsizing process that I really don’t have a lot of control over. All the other decisions on what to keep and what to give away were mine to make and mine to execute. I completed the process every time we had a yard sale or dropped off a bag at Goodwill.
Now, I have to put my self out there, put my house out there, and hope and ask and advertise for someone to come and help me downsize my life. My process is now intricately connected with someone else’s goals, finances, and life situation.
One of my downsizing/simplifying goals has been to get out of debt. I always figured that just meant putting extra money towards our mortgage every month until it was paid off. I had no idea it would mean selling the house. Insert forehead slap here. In retrospect now, it makes way too much sense!
So that’s what’s happening in our downsizing process today. And I am fully certain that I am completely uncertain what tomorrow will bring! No matter what, I’m going to do my best to roll with it and learn.
Peace and happiness to you all! May downsizing bring you more joy, more freedom, and more closeness with those you love and who love you.
Editor’s note: Upstater may have missed out documenting the beginning of her story, but you can read the rest of Beth’s journey to downsize her family’s regularly-sized American life into a perfect little house in the Adirondack mountains on her blog.
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