I’m wandering in the in-between. I’m somewhere between firmly in my career and leaving it. I’m between Virginia and Maine. I’m on one side of my town, but flowing toward the other. I’m in my house, yet preparing it to belong to others. I have two minor children at home, but will soon have another adult child. I don’t know how a lot of this will play out in the future.
A few weeks ago I was thinking of the many nebulous transitions in my life and thought back to a period of time that was the opposite. For nine years in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I lived in one place and worked at the same job. I didn’t have any kids yet. I had concluded a traumatic season of life and I later called those nine years a “rest stop” on the map of my life. I remember my sister-in-law asking me, “What’s new with you these days?” There was nothing. One year wasn’t much different from another.
Now, my life is full of changes. I have referred to this school year as the “Year of Lasts” because I plan on retiring in June. I have taught at the same school for 29.5 years. The end of that time is approaching quickly. It is bringing changes even before the official end.
Change can be exciting, but also disconcerting and stressful. There are nights when I try to sleep, and panic suddenly hits me. My dreams are intermittently odd and a reflection of the uncertainties ahead. During the day, I struggle to sit and write with all that must be done.
The biggest physical change is that we have to move. On a retirement income, I can’t afford my current mortgage. We are going to move to one of Mom’s rental houses in the spring, and put my house on the market. I am sad to have to leave my current house. I’ve been there 11 years. It’s a nice house with a lot of space and my neighborhood is wonderful. This is the only place I’ve lived with my kids. Moving is a big change and it takes away stability and comfort. Our new neighborhood will not be as nice or attractive as the current one. The house will be smaller, is old, and has issues, such as bowed floors and crooked windows. I lived there in college and into my mid-twenties, so returning there will feel surreal.
Moving means significant downsizing. Right now that seems like a DAILY focus. We (okay, mainly I) have a lot of stuff to give away, sell, or throw away. We’ve been working on it for over a year, but have a long way to go. It’s overwhelming sometimes.
Summers will be different for us now, due to buying the house in Maine. The house now has a nice metal roof but is a shell inside, so there is much left to do. I try to keep the vision of what it will become when we are done. Meanwhile, my northern family members are collecting items for us to have in the house.
I have a foot in two states now so I can’t be fully in either, but am partly in both. There is a tension at home, where I miss the relatives in the north, but I know I’ll also have the tension of missing my people here, when I spend my summers there. I wonder how I will handle the separation from my loved ones at home when I am in Maine. I wonder how they will feel about me being gone.
Change is hard, even when it is good. I think and plan ahead while still taking one step at a time, so as to not become overwhelmed. The balance can be difficult. My success with this varies from day to day.
For the next few months, life will be about downsizing our stuff and prepping my house for sale, while still trying to practice self-care. Feel free to remind me of the need for the latter!