There is an old Yiddish saying, “Man plans; God laughs”
Four years ago my family became gypsies. Before that time we lived in one town for sixteen years. It was Hunky’s home town so he had many years invested there before we met in college in my own home town. Four years prior to becoming gypsies, we bought our first home.
Did I mention it was in Florida? Did I mention we lived three miles from the ocean?
Yes, we’d have stayed.
Man plans; God laughs.
A series of life altering surprises for which we could never have prepared, led to a sudden out of state move and eventually to our losing the house in Florida. We were the unfortunate victims of buying at the top of the real estate bubble and needing to unload after the collapse. Long story short – foreclosure, bankruptcy and two people generally burned on the idea of home ownership.
We’ve rented three different homes since that time. All of them have been larger by far than the home we owned. One of them was so large, over three thousand square feet, that I began to question my own sanity. Before our move to Georgia, we’d never really questioned our pursuit of the American dream. Own a home, sell it to buy a larger home. Bigger is better; newer is best. Let the bank provide the means if we didn’t have it. But banks no longer like the looks of us, and our foray into home ownership had been stressful and expensive beyond our imagining. It was also a mark of permanency, a kind of permanency I haven’t regained.
Life in the largest dwelling I ever intend to inhabit led to a new perspective on space and stuff, and the time and responsibility the two require. After taking care of my family and educating my girls, I spent far too much of my time maintaining my home and yard. I began to resent the house and the time I had to spend taking care of it, but I dreaded the thought of packing everything in boxes again. Sure we’d thrown things away when we’d left Florida, but we’d also lived in our first Georgia home for two years with a storage room filled with unpacked boxes. We’d changed locations but we hadn’t yet changed our mindset about our stuff.
Two years after moving to Georgia we moved again, to a slightly smaller home with the most incredible view imaginable. The picture that I am using through out my 31 Days theme was taken on the boat dock of that home. Our generous friends offered us a beautiful, temporary place to live. From the beginning we knew time was short until we would be packing our things again. I began in earnest looking at each item we owned and weighing the reasons why we kept it. I discovered that my desire to keep things was directly proportional to my desire to pack and unpack it again. From clothes we never wore to books we’d never read, even after owning them for a decade or more, I was losing my desire to hang on to things for ‘just in case’. If we weren’t using it this week, it began to seem silly to keep hauling it around. Only our Christmas tree and one box of lights and ornaments are allowed to sit around in boxes.
Our most recent move at the end of May this year, was our easiest yet, and I’m still sorting and resorting with another move in mind.
I don’t love the process of packing and moving everything we own, but I don’t dread it any more either. I have loved living in the vastly different houses have since we began living more like gypsies and less like all our faith was in the American Dream. We’ll probably move again next year. I’ll be ready.