For some reason I chose the Triple Threat: downsizing, retiring and relocating in a cross country move! What was I thinking? It made perfect sense, given my husband’s bout with Stage IV cancer and my TIA and supposedly in the process of going blind.
Also, my best friend had just died and the process of caregiving and processing her stuff afterward made me want to travel light in my retirement years. I had just written an article on downsizing and it made so much sense . . .
Then there was the business of selling the house. Yeah. Sure. I hadn’t planned on the debt crisis which tumbled home buyers’ faith in the economic recovery. I really hadn’t planned on a 300 year drought which discouraged home sales, or an earthquake, and several hurricanes. We happened to be on the bad size of Irene, causing and worsening massive wildfires that Texas already was having.
Then there’s the actual process of downsizing. I was proud of myself for the repeated donations to Goodwill, etc. We had 3 garage sales to help fund my wageless summer, and were continually selling stuff online.
The decision was finally made to use a moving van, carefully selecting one with a good estimate. However, the 50 box guess on my part turned into 100 before I knew it. So I knew it could get worse before it got better.
Logic supported the idea of downsizing. Yet the challenges piled one on top of another. I decided to keep tutoring in my home till the end – providing myself a way to pay for the move.
In order to obtain my meager 403b savings (which I had to have to purchase the small destination condo) I had to retire and separate myself completely from the school district where I worked. Thus, no teaching, subbing, or other visible means of support! However, I did manage to save a good deal on the price of the retirement place. Enter new bills. . .
OK, looking in the pantry I realized it did need to be cleaned out prior to the move. Can you imagine living all summer out of your fridge and pantry? Mostly we ate pretty bad meals, but there were a few creative recipes developed due to sheer hunger, and our nutrition didn’t really suffer – only our tastebuds!
But surprises kept coming hard and fast. One day I was told the move would cost $1000. more than expected. Oh, and the same morning I faced an immediate need for another $1000. in insurance and maintenance for the new place which was my final destination.
After a good cleansing cry, I decided I’d bounce back and spent the next day performing nine (count ’em, nine) transactions to make it happen financially.
Just as I started to relax, my husband surfaced with a bone-chilling toothache. That emergency cost $4000. since my Cobra had run out. (I was planning to find a dental place once I got moved, but this couldn’t wait.) Enter credit. I have a love-hate affair with it, not having used it any in a couple of years after I finally paid off the long string of copays associated with cancer.
The moving van had come and gone. Living in an almost empty house served to remind me how badly I wanted someone to buy my house. It was beautiful, fairly new, but the lure of relocation challenges and palm trees was calling to me. So, when my friends cheerily spoke of how I was “retiring to sunny South Florida” I both smiled and whined a bit.
Meanwhile I continued to tutor while we lived out of a suitcase with two or three pieces of furniture. My students loved using moving boxes as furniture. It reminded me of when I used to camp out.
As we were cleaning closets of the remaining tidbits, my husband found me discarding some wire coat hangers. It was heart-rending for him to give up the only known means of roasting marshmallows or wieners. In the end he gave in when I mentioned that he hadn’t attended a wiener roast in almost half a century!
Somehow we made it to Florida and the house closed just in time for Thanksgiving. In the end, I’ve decided that downsizing to reduce clutter is both painfully miserable and marvelously satisfying. Wonderful friends pitched in to make it seem almost fun and possible.
Recounting these several months may sound like a nightmare, but it did accomplish my goal. I heartily recommend downsizing as it makes life so much easier. However, I’m still looking for another way to roast marshmallows . . . just in case:-)
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for publication online or in print.