Right-sizing

We are downsizing.

There. I said it.

It feels like a confession. While many people our age are movin’ on up, we’re waving at them as they pass by … from the down escalator.

If feels crazy. We live on a lovely two-acre lot with two distinct ecosystems: mossy, lichen-filled woods and a stream in back; sunny landscaped yard in front. We have great neighbors. We have lovely sunsets. We have peace and quiet. We grow lots of tomatoes, beans and herbs.

It feels reckless, as if we are giving up paradise. But this paradise is in the wrong place.

As autumn kicked into gear, it finally became clear that although we live here, our life — our community — is at least a half hour away, in the city. That’s where my husband works, where our son goes to school, where my work connections are, where most of our friends live and where our church is.

After seven years out here in the hinterland, we finally noticed how much time we spend on the road, how many conversations we have without looking at each other, how stressed we get trying to attend activities in places far away.

Suddenly, this road-warrior life stopped making sense, and we knew we couldn’t stay.

And that is how we decided to downsize. A few years back we invested in a townhome in the city. Last week, when our tenants moved out, it seemed there was nothing to do but take their place. Our new back yard will be roughly the size of our current master bathroom.

It sounds ill-advised, doesn’t it? (Especially the part about putting our house on the market as the holidays approach.) But it feels just right. Necessary even.

Looking back, I can see I was getting itchy last summer, consigning clothes and toys for the first time in my life. A touch of real-world foreshadowing.

Now I’m on a roll. Ten days ago I did a manic daylong cleaning/reorg/purge of the kitchen (thanks, Andrew Mellen, for Unstuff Your Life! — “More Love, Less Stuff”). Today I did a shorter clean/reorg/purge of our son’s bedroom. I’m like a hunter in my own home, preying on the non-essential. Furniture has to go. Tchotchkes and mementos have to go. The detritus that accumulates when you’re in a place for seven years … lots of it has to go.

Talking with my husband this evening about our coming transition, it occurred to me that I’m on this tear despite the fact that the townhome we are moving into has 200 more square feet of space than our house! I knew that all along, but its floor plan is so different that it did not really sink in till tonight. The realization felt anticlimactic.

“I guess we aren’t downsizing after all,” I said.

“No,” he said. “We’re right-sizing.”

With that, he put words to our goal. It isn’t really about the stuff — although opening up some space in our home feels fabulous. It’s about restoring balance. We are ready to spend less time doing, more time being.

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4 thoughts on “Right-sizing

  1. Wow! I like the term “right sizing” and am impressed that you’re doing it. Many people don’t do it till their kids are older. I think you’re going to find that you’ll be enjoying life so much more! I know I found that to be the result of my ‘right-sizing.’
    Best to you all!

  2. Sarah – Great article! Angie and I go through the same emotional roller coaster, should we move to “town”, etc. Our present plan is to stay where we are for a couple more years, but then we’ll be looking next door to your townhouse! Best to you!

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