What does home mean? Is it where you sleep? Eat? Keep your clothes? Store your stuff? All of these have applied to my various homes. I grew up in a brand new, small, three bedroom, two bath home with an attached garage. My first home away from home was a two bedroom, single-wide mobile home. There’s something familiar about that! Since this first sign of independence, paying my own bills and playing grown up, I have lived in apartments, condos and have owned a few homes.
Life has taken on many different forms including the places I have previously called home. Ideas of where I would finally settle have also changed. Most of my adult life was spent within a ten mile radius of where I grew up. Leaving the area was something I had not considered until I was 38 years old. My husband and I made a huge choice and life changing decision to move 100 miles away and buy a house in a strange town. This moment was when I learned big change, although scary, could be a good thing. We were happy, successful and financially stable…for about 20 years.
Sometime in the midst of adulthood, getting our daughter raised, changing career fields a couple of times and life happening, we were making other plans. We dreamed of retirement…someday. The thought of being old enough to enjoy the thought of not working always seemed so far in the future and untouchable. It seemed easy to dream about something that was so far away. Surely money would be less of an issue by then. We could sell our house, liquidate, buy an RV to travel and live in for the rest of our lives, and live off…wait. Live off what? Our 401K’s? Will Social Security still be available? What will healthcare be like in the future?
Then more of “life” happened. The market tanked. Our house decreased in value. My husband lost his job and got sick temporarily. We lost our house and moved into a small apartment, closer to both of our jobs, saving around $800 in gas money. The meaning of home had changed yet again. Phase I of downsizing began! Less furniture, less collectibles, less clothes…less everything. I never expected to feel so free letting go of stuff. We were still happy…as happy as The Bickersons could be. We are still working on that!
We have learned STUFF does not make a home. In fact, getting rid of STUFF makes a happier home – for us anyway. Enter Phase II of the downsizing. The hard part is letting go of things I’ve had all of my life. The purging is so much easier once the claw marks have made their way down them. Letting go is really not that bad, although truthfully, our daughter is now the owner of our most treasured things; i.e. an oak entertainment center made especially for us by my father-in-law.
I love our new home. It represents everything we have worked hard for, our new life together, a dream of travel, but most of all, freedom from anything tying us down. Our new address will be whatever we make it – geographically, physically and emotionally.
The bottom line: We can always go back to sticks and bricks if it’s not for us after all. For now…we’ve made our bed and we’ll be lying in it until it no longer serves us!