June 8, 2021 – Devil’s Advocate

I’m beginning to get the impression that people think I’m ‘all talk, no action’. As many times as my husband has ‘checked in’ to see whether I’m still on board to move, it’s hard to feel otherwise. And it’s not just my husband, it’s our kids. They want to know why suddenly I’ve had a change of heart and whether I might regret my decision. I have been asked so many different questions about my intentions or desires or expectations. “You need to understand that it’s not going to be anything like when we come out for vacation,” my husband keeps reminding me. “I know, I know,” I answer each time, “But even if we’re only able to connect with friends and family every now and then, it’s better than our current options.” Our current options? I have essentially one really good friend that lives about 30 minutes away and my husband has none. No friends. Not a single one. Ok, that’s not entirely true…he has me and the dog. Even though he says that’s all he needs, I disagree. At the very least, he needs a ‘fishing buddy’.

All men need a ‘buddy’ that is not their partner or spouse. Whether it’s a ‘fishing buddy’, ‘hiking buddy’, ‘biking buddy’, ‘bible study buddy’, or ‘poker buddy’, every man needs one. Of course, that applies to women, too. All of us need someone in our lives that we can get support or companionship from that is not our partner or spouse, if for no other reason, to act as a ‘sounding board’ when our partner or spouse is driving us nuts. When my husband questions my reasons for moving, the fact that he has no one but me and the dog is reason enough. Where we are intending to move to, which happens to be near where we used to live, he has so many ‘buddies’. He has a ‘car building buddy’, ‘fishing and biking buddy’, ‘guy that likes to pick his brain for heating/cooling solutions buddy’, along with several others. Needless to say, there is no shortage of ‘buddies’. Having these additional people in his life not only benefits him, it benefits me as well since most of his ‘buddies’ have spouses that I really enjoy hanging out with.

Another reason I have provided, when questioned at length about whether a move is a good idea, is the opportunity to buy a house outright with cash. I do realize that it might not be possible after spending several hours driving around and looking at different areas that had homes within our price range and coming away from the experience severely disappointed. That being said, all three times we’ve purchased a home in the past, we’ve been able to find homes that were in our ‘price point’ that either did or nearly did ‘tick all the boxes’ on our list. I must admit, all of them have been ‘fixer uppers’ and that’s the primary reason they were affordable. This time will be different because we are no longer ‘young and vibrant’ and completely overhauling a house simply isn’t in the cards. I would love to get a house that’s ‘turnkey’ but I don’t think it’s realistic. Even if it isn’t, I am open to some ‘small’ projects that are within my capabilities.

The concept of ‘small’ projects does not include a brand new heating/cooling system, in addition to all new plumbing, windows, doors, gutters, wiring, lighting, floors, walls, and fixtures. However, it does include painting and maybe updating hardware on cabinets, drawers, and doors. I cannot think of anything else at the moment but I am sure there are plenty of other examples. I just happen to be drawing a blank at present. What I am absolutely certain of is that I am too old and too tired to take on another house that requires a complete rehabilitation. The same goes for my husband. Seven years ago, when we moved into our current home, we were in our late-40s and still had plenty of ‘pep in our step’. There is little ‘pep’ left but I think there is enough to get us through one last move. And I emphasize the word ‘last’. We are both of the same mindset that ‘this is it’. Wherever we go next, we aren’t going anywhere afterward unless it’s to an assisted living center or a morgue.

My husband agrees that having friends nearby and (possibly) no mortgage payment are great motivators for making a move. But what about reasons not to? “There are a lot of ghosts,” he reminded me yesterday, “You have your fair share but I have mine, too.” Sigh. He just had to play ‘Devil’s Advocate’! Grrr. Yes, it’s true. There are plenty of ‘ghosts’. I have enough to fill up a large school bus and he has enough to fill up a 9-passenger van. It’s not that he has 9 ghosts necessarily, but he does have at least a few. Of the few, one of those ghosts is quite large. If you’ve ever seen ‘Ghostbusters’, try to envision the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The largest of my husband’s ghosts (that continues to haunt him) takes up at least 6 seats in the 9-passenger van. In fact, it’s the main reason we left in the first place. The thing is, my husband and I have come a long way since that ghost entered our lives and even if we happen to encounter it when we return, I think we’re strong enough now to overcome it, no matter how ominous it appears.

After we got through with that discussion, my husband felt compelled to remind me that we will be temporarily ‘homeless’ once we sell our current home and make the move, and that in all likelihood we’ll have to live in his parents’ basement until we can find something suitable. I can live in his parents’ basement for a week or two. Any longer than that? I’m not so sure. If we had it all to ourselves, it probably wouldn’t be so bad. But that’s not an option right now. Currently, his sister and brother-in-law are occupying the basement. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely people. My worry is that even though we get along, if we end up sharing a small space with them for an extended period of time, the relationship will change (and not for the better). I’ve heard about too many ‘best friends’ moving in together and within a matter of weeks or months, they are no longer on speaking terms. It never ends well. I don’t want that to happen with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law. Fortunately, a couple of other friends have offered to ‘shelter’ us if we get in a pickle. If we do end up ‘homeless’, I think the best solution is to rent something short term through VRBO.

If we rent something for a few weeks, we will have the ‘run of the place’ and won’t have to worry about getting on people’s nerves or vice versa. It will cost us, of course. That is the one benefit of staying in my in-laws’ basement, however, sometimes ‘free’ isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Have you heard of the saying, “Nothing in life is free?” It’s true, my friends. There’s always ‘a catch’. What I guarantee won’t be free is the actual move. It will cost us energy, resources, and a whole lot of the ‘almighty dollar’. The less we ship, the less the move will cost, but trying to determine ‘what stays’ and ‘what goes’ is already weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve already spent way too much time thinking about whether or not to keep my old Technics Audio Cassette Player as well as my sizable collection of audio cassettes. The friend we spoke with the other day, who is also a mortgage broker/lender, told us to get rid of everything we haven’t touched in the last 6 months. It’s good advice but I’m not so black and white with my thinking.

What if I get rid of that cassette player and all of my old tapes and then suddenly they become collectable and extremely valuable like ‘Beanie Babies’ or old baseball trading cards? And how will I be able to play my slightly distorted cassette tape of Rod Stewart’s Greatest Hits (because I left it in the tape deck in my car on a hot day in the early 90s) without a cassette player? I already know the answer, all of it should go. It’s just so hard to part ways, I’ve hauled them around with me for decades and there are so many memories tied to those old tapes. Ugh…’stuff’. There is so much of it! None of it really has much value any longer. Most of what we own is ‘tired’. When I stand in my kitchen and look around, I observe a sad, blond wood microwave stand (purchased on Craigslist) that is currently utilized as a plant stand, an oval-shaped oak table (covered in scratches) that came with 6 chairs (also purchased on Craigslist), and a dilapidated sideboard (originally purchased new at a furniture store over a quarter of a century ago) that has not fared well over the years (due to multiple moves).

I will have no problem ‘retiring’ all or most of my old, sad, bulky furniture. However, I will have a problem with all of the ‘odds and ends’, the stuff that currently resides in drawers and cabinets and closets. I know there’s a ‘hoarder’ that resides deep, down inside and she does not enjoy relinquishing things. She likes to whisper in my ear, “You don’t want to get rid of that! I know you’ve only used it once in the past 5 years but you might have a need for it in the future. If you get rid of it, you’re only going to have to buy it all over again. And what a waste of money that would be!” No matter how much I try to reason with her, she refuses to listen. And she’s loud and obnoxious. Attempting to ignore her or shut her out is futile. Just thinking about it makes me tired. But I think I’m finally strong enough to keep her at bay and not allow her to sabotage my plans. I just have to continually remind myself of what we’ll be gaining as a result of the move and keep plugging away. If my husband and I each devote a little time each day to clearing out the house, I am confident we’ll be able to knock it out in no time!

P.S. If you’re confused by the significance of the attached photo, that makes two of us. I spent far too much time trying to find a suitable photo for today’s topic and after nearly an hour of searching on the internet, I finally settled on the image of the dog. The other pictures I came across that might have worked were far too creepy and/or unsettling.

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