Having celebrated making the decision to move to Michigan, we now need to actually move to Michigan. That means sorting, wrapping and packing all our worldly goods. During our 42 years of marriage, Mr. Smith and I have moved more times than your average bear, but we haven’t packed ourselves for a move since before the birth of our youngest son who is now 36 and an accomplished mover in his own right.
Where does all this stuff come from??? We have downsized and edited our possessions several times over the years, donating and selling as much as possible, trying to avoid landfill contributions. I have come to believe “stuff” is sneaky. It finds its way into your home when you aren’t looking. One morning you look up from your steaming cup of coffee and wonder hey, how did I accumulate all this shit???
There are, of course, different schools of thoughts on why we have so much stuff and why it’s so hard to get rid of things. Some of the most common reasons for holding onto things are – it was expensive, it was a gift, needing to find a good home for it, or my sister’s personal favorite – I might need it SOMEDAY!!! I think she has a lot of stuff, but I imagine she will think the same about me when the moving truck starts to get unloaded.
Mr. Smith, my sister and I face a unique challenge in that we are combining two households into one happy home. We will each have some private space, but a fair amount of communal space where we will have to combine our treasures to create a décor that works for all of us. Luckily, our aesthetics are not far off.
With the combined wisdom of our collective 200+ years on earth, we know there is nothing we own that is worth fighting over and are prepared to purge and compromise. That said, we also agree that each of us has a few items that are dear to us and wouldn’t easily be discarded. For instance, I can’t imagine parting with my good friend.
Apparently, we aren’t the only people thinking about how to spend our dotage. The Pandemic and its corresponding lockdown has led people to think about creating new ways to grow old. We enjoy our independence and the ability to eat, read or sleep whenever we want, but our year of isolation has reinforced the value of companionship.
Other countries are ahead of the U.S. in creating cooperative housing options for older women. Babayagas’ House in Montreuil on the east side of Paris, is a self-managed social house project created and run by a group of female senior citizens who want to keep their independence but live communally. “To live long is a good thing but to age well is better,” says 85-year-old Therese Cleric who dreamt up the project back in 1999. Eighteen years of planning and fundraising resulted in England’s Older Women’s Co-Housing made up of 26 flats. And a group of Canadian women are currently creating their own version of shared housing, calling it “Radical Rest Homes.”
Our Golden Girl version is slightly different as ours includes a Golden Boy, but the intent is largely the same. My sister will teach Mr. Smith and me to play mahjong and keep us engaged in politics and world events, enhanced by her experience of living abroad. Mr. Smith will keep our home filled with music, make us delicious dinners and revisit his gardening skills. And moi, I will plan it all!
How do you see your golden years? Statistically women outlive their spouses by six to eight years. Would you want to live alone in your 70s and 80s? Would you be happy living with one of your children or would you prefer to live with a group of fabulous women? While I hope to share many more years with Mr. Smith, this is something I think about.
C’est la vie.