So, why do it? Our home is a 4,500 square foot Tudor with five bedrooms and a big backyard, and the apartment that we are moving into is 1,264 square foot with just two bedrooms, a doorman, and no outdoor space. As I’ve grown older, about to turn 83 in two weeks, I have spent more time, endless hours, in my son’s bedroom which I have converted into my personal office. Here is where I spend most of my time writing books and blogs. Whereas the office in which I’ve conducted my psychiatric practice since 1969 is attached to the house. One of my greatest passions and hobbies over the years has been beautifying the stone walkway that leads to the office, where I created a series of gardens with vegetables and flowers, annuals and perennials, and a small orchard to provide peaches and nectarines for the squirrels, who leave me a few if I’m lucky.
Yet, I’m avoiding the more important reasons why we must move. Although my wife is uncomfortable with climbing stairs, her strength and stamina are far stronger than mine. For me, it’s my balance issue, which was made apparent on many occasions to my daughters who live locally. My son who lives across the country also noticed my gait at my grandson’s graduation last year, and my brother also expressed concerned about my shuffling during a recent visit. For my wife, it’s the stairs from the second floor and sometimes the third-floor attic where she has garment bags and bins for seasonal clothes, and of course, shoes, boots, and coats. We are both having more difficulty getting down to the basement to do laundry, plus other once simple tasks like changing light bulbs and bringing the trash bins to the curb.
All our friends, with one exception, have moved to condominiums and tell us the simpler, uncluttered life is so much easier once you go through the decluttering and mourning process. I will especially miss my office which has provided a comfortable space for my patients and for me for 51 years, and the fishpond in our backyard which I have tended to and where pond plants and Koi thrive.
The 1,264 square foot apartment we are moving into has no stairs and will accommodate only a few of our most favored works of art. On a brighter note, the layout makes those feet seem larger and there is a heated lap pool to allow me to exercise in the only form I enjoy.
It took colossal effort to prepare the house for showing; help provided to us by our daughters and a paid team. Through their assistance, we were able to decide what to keep, donate, sell, or trash. At certain points we were banned from our home while strangers in masks and gloves decided if they were interested in making an offer on the house we’ve made a home for so many joyous years. The house sold quickly – within days – to a family of five who live just down the street.
Our feelings have swung from anxiety to excitement, and from denial to acceptance. So how do you move thirty plus bins, furniture, suitcases, and art into a two-bedroom apartment? By anticipating an easier and more comfortable life.
Howard Schwartz, MD, is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and is a certified psychoanalyst. He has been in practice for 50 years, is still practicing, and is the author of 5 books.