Most of my life I've been a homeowner, and for the most part I have enjoyed the experience. So I thought moving into an apartment recently would be quite a challenge. But actually it hasn't been.
I suppose that's because just as times have changed, so have people and circumstances. For many of the 40 years I spent in my last house, for example, I had wonderful neighbors. They were all elderly, so some of them have passed away and others have moved. It isn't really the same neighborhood anymore.
Also, for many of those years I could find dependable people who could be relied on to do the job for which I paid them. That's not always true these days. Too often the people you hire to make repairs don't do a good job, and you are forced to get someone else to do their work over. Some of my friends have paid to have the same work done three times. And, unfortunately, many of these workers prey on older people.
People no longer sit on the porch and visit anymore or play outdoor games like badminton or croquet. They don't seem to have as many backyard family picnics as they once did. Sometimes you can go a week without seeing your neighbors. Neighborhoods that were once filled with yards full of children are now occupied by houses with closed doors where people are inside enjoying air conditioning and television.
So for me much of the joy has gone out of home ownership. At this point in my life, I'm satisfied to say that I've been there and done that. Presently, I'm pleased with the fact that when something goes wrong with the plumbing, electricity or heat, I can pick up the telephone and call somebody. In other words, I'm happy not being the one in charge.
The other thing is that I am a lover of antiques and I have been a collector all my life. My son asked me the other day if I had found any treasures when I packed up. I was thrilled to announce that I had located my Betty Lou spoon which I had put away somewhere and hadn't been able to locate for years. As I recall, that spoon was a premium which was offered with some kind of cereal when I was a child. The girls in my family all had one.
I'm glad I took the opportunity to sort through my "stuff." I think it's very unfair for people to burden their children and others with loads of their personal treasures that no one else appreciates. I have several friends who admit that their offspring have no interest in family memorabilia, but they are unable to part with the things they hold dear. Finding someone who shares your interests is not always easy.
For me, apartment-living makes me feel freer to come and go whenever I like. I don't have to worry that someone may not remember to cut the grass or trim the hedges. With ownership, you sometimes have to ask yourself if you own the house or if the house owns you. I can't count the times I have put off taking a trip because it was the year to paint the house or put on a new roof.
There is a lot of responsibility that comes with owning property that as you get older you don't really feel like dealing with. It's like when you are a parent you look forward to the day when your last child finishes school so you can have free time, but something else comes along to take as much of your time as your children (e.g., this year it's new windows, and next year it will be new doors).
I like meeting new people, and I like getting involved in new activities. There's a park nearby with a hiking trail. It's a good place to meet friends and share a picnic.
Certainly, when you leave the place where you brought up your children and made neighborhood friends, you'll leave behind many good memories. But the memories stay with you and provide the substance of the new life one hopes to build.
So, I feel good about moving on. There's a lot to be said for knowing when it's time to go.
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