The other night the family gathered for Happy Hour. It was raining, so we congregated in the den for drinks and nibbles. As the evening came to a close I was reminded that the Olympic Swimming Trials were being televised.
My granddaughter, the 12 year old, was excited to watch, my son, the 43 year old, not so much…yawn. What a difference 30 plus years has made. When he was 12 his world revolved around swimming, thus so did ours. When he was 12 he held the number one time in the butterfly in the USA. When he was 12 his goal was to be an Olympic swimmer. Swimming was his life. He swam in meets all over the country. When he was 15 the ‘Ole Buckeye took him to Austin, Texas, to see the 1988 Olympic Trials. Instead of soccer idols that my granddaughter now has, his idols swam. At that time he looked up to Matt Bondi. Through the sport he made lifetime friends. He learned many life lessons.
I have been purging, and as I have gone through old tapes and boxes I have been reacquainted with his one time dreams, his one time goals. I remember how he wanted and needed the goggles, sweats, bags, suits, caps, and “pins”. I remember how he ate incessantly. I remember planning our travel and vacations, and even anniversaries around his swim meets. I remember the fun and friendships, the successes and disappointments. I remember it all.
What truly surprises me is that his memories are so very different.
I guess I am writing this to try to understand. As a youngster he had amazing goals and dreams. He had talent and drive. What changed and why does he lack any enthusiasm for the sport he once loved?
Obviously life has moved on. He continues to have goals and dreams. He continues to excel in most everything that he does. I just find it hard to understand the jaded feelings he has for the sport and the experience.
I can’t put my finger on when it changed, although I have an idea. What I don’t understand now, is his complete lack of interest in the sport at this level at this time. Just a Ho, Hum.
Luckily the 12 year old has enjoyed the coverage. Luckily she has come to realize the significance of the sport and the swimmers. Fortunately she admires the talent of Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Anthony Ervin (the oldest), and Katie Ledecky, the new marvel.
The “Ole Buckeye and I enjoyed watching and look forward to Rio. I love the Olympics!
I have also made a decision. I will take some time over the next few weeks to pull out the swimming memories for the grand girls to see. They have been stored away all these years, but now need to be shared.
I will reminisce and remember, they will look and see. Then I will need to make the ultimate decision…do I repack the memories, or discard them. Do I hold on to them for someone else to purge in the future? Do I document and discard?
I guess that decision will be made when I know their reaction, when I determine their interest, when I am assured that there is at least some small impact. Hopefully they will gather a better understanding of who their dad was at their age and what he was able to accomplish. I tell myself that that is the reason I held on to his past. Hopefully having saved the memories will accomplish some of what I had hoped.
At that point it will be an interesting experience discovering my own reaction.
Will I let go?
A few months ago, I went home. Actually I went to visit friends in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I have called it home for over 36 years. We stayed with our neighbor, Gail. Actually we stayed with our one time neighbor, Gail.
You see, even though we moved to our new house in Virginia a year ago, I called our other house home. After all that is where my heart is, that is where I raised my children. That is where I raised myself. That is where I became who I am. That is where I identified so many things that I wanted to do and did them. That is where I worked for years to create the life that I wanted for myself and my family. That is the house that I poured my creativity into creating the home that I envisioned. Over the years there were so many changes not only to myself, but also to my home.
It’s difficult for me to remember just how many changes we made to our little house. We made major renovations and minor improvements. The ‘Ole Buckeye who retired 2 1/2 years before I did, worked in the yard. I mean he worked in the yard to make it a total enhancement for the house. We had plants that we nutured over the years from small plantings to lovely specimens. We had bulbs that bloomed every spring proving the winter was over. I loved seeing those first purple crocus buds begin to bloom. I loved the birch and the Japanese maple. I loved all the ground cover that I worked with tirelessly to spread over the entire front beds.
By the time I closed the business, I was ready to relax and enjoy the house that I had made into a home that we loved. That was not to be. After a winter away, the decision was made to buy and move. It was the right decision, but that doesn’t make it an easy transition.
That brings me back to NOW. As we pulled into our “neighbors” driveway and I looked next door there stood a house I barely recognized. The windows were dark, all the shades pulled, the beds in the back unmaintained and the landscaped front…relandscaped with grass and rock. All that remained were the birch, the Japanese maple and the lovely sugarbush that we put in the year before we moved.
The trash and recycle bins were parked in the front. There was no “smile” on this house. Yes, it is a house, but it is not my home.
I am glad we made the visit. I am glad we had time with our friends. I am glad that I hugged my “neighbor” and we shared lots of wine clad conversation.
I was not Home. I was a visitor. I was a guest. I was not sad, but maybe a little shocked at my feelings. I felt displaced.
You see, even though we have moved and have a lovely townhouse to which I have transported the contents of my previous home, it still does not feel like “home”. Don’t get me wrong, it is lovely, and more than functional. Actually I might have considered it my “dream house” several years ago. It has so many spaces that I truly enjoy and where I can completely relax, but “home” it is not, at least not yet.
I have come to realize that a Home is built over time from the life we experience within the walls, because of the memories we create, because of the changes we initiate to make it our own.
What I have come to determine is that I can’t go home again to where I was and I can’t go home to where I am until I have established it to be my home. My heart continues to long for what I had and what I thought I wanted when I retired. My heart is trying to be secure and fulfilled where I am. It continues to be a process of restructuring what I was planning into what my plans have become. I think that I lost myself in a hectic transition and now I am attempting to make an emotional transition after a physical transition. It will take time and I find that sometimes I feel that I am wasting some of my precious time.
I can’t go home again right now. Strange.
The one thing that I have realized…the home of 35 years, is not home. That door was closed during my visit. The address was the same, the house was the same, the home no longer existed.
It is true…you can’t go “home” again.
We have come to the end of a great 4th of July celebration. Patriotic Porches abound in East Beach, Norfolk, Virginia. This has become one of my favorite holidays due to the way it is celebrated by this community. It truly amazes me how the entire East Beach neighborhood captures the holiday and joins the festivities.
I love how everyone embraces the red, white, and blue…
The Red, White, and Blue
The Creation of Family Traditions
Oh, and the Rain
But that certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm!
When our retirement became a reality, we had no plans of relocating as soon as we did. However, we did make the decision to be closer to our Grand daughters and to make a difference in their lives, the kind of difference that cannot be made long distance with visits several times a year. When we were introduced to the “community” of East Beach we felt comfortable in making a move. As with any change, it takes time to acclimate.
A community is commonly considered a social unit (a group of three or more people) who share something in common, such as norms, values, identity, and often a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a village, town, or neighborhood).
Patriotic is defined as having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.
A critical reason for choosing to relocate to East Beach was the old fashioned sense of community. It was the way I grew up, neighbors knowing neighbors and looking after each other. The streets alive with residents taking strolls all times of the day, walking their dogs, stopping and talking on their porches, walking on the beach, touring in their golf carts, always with a “Hello” or friendly wave. The open spaces and parks are alive with children and their laughter, playing together.
This time of year those feelings are reinforced, and punctuated with color. I am again reminded that I am part of a community. A bonus for me…I have found a Patriotic Community.
I don’t function when my house isn’t clean, when my glasses aren’t on, or when things are disorganized. Literally, I don’t function. It has become abundantly clear that a retirement requirement of a daily routine be established.
What I have found is that initial retirement created a lack of push to keep things in order. After all I have all day to get things done.
Let me explain. When I had a “job” I got up in the morning, checked my email, caught up on the overnight news and got my house in order before leaving for work. What I miss now is coming home at the end of the day to a totally clean and organized house. I loved being greeted by my home when I opened the front door at the end of a work day…organized and inviting.
That never happens anymore. We are living and working at home and it seems in constant motion, seldom totally together. It reminds me of the cluttered weekends during my last life. Tolerated but short lived, after all, it was only 2 days.
Over these past months I have instituted a new procedure. Please understand, this is separate from “cleaning the house”. These are the daily routines I perform to keep my home clean and in order. I also have weekly, monthly, and yearly routines, but discussing those is for another time.
This is the beginning of my new operating rules in the first phase of my retirement requirement:
- Make the bed. As soon as you get up and before you leave the bedroom. We have a rule at our house…last man out makes the bed. Secretly, sometimes I actually get up before I am ready, just so that I don’t have to make the bed. This one thing in and of itself, puts the day in order and provides a sense of accomplishment.
- Empty the dishwasher if it ran overnight. Put everything in its place.
- Squeegee the shower and wipe out the sinks.
- Put clothes away. Hang them up as soon as you take them off. This includes all clothing, coats, and shoes. Everything in its place. If it needs to go into the laundry…put it there.
- Do a load of laundry as soon as there is enough to make a full load. Dry it, fold it, and put it away. Each of us is responsible for putting our own things away. By the way, I used to put everything away. Not anymore. I do fold the clothes, but then I put them into a bin to be put away.
- Amass things in baskets, drawers, and bins. A place for everything, even if it is unread mail and magazines. Nothing is allowed to “lay around”. Except maybe the adults in front of the TV.
- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Put things away immediately. Put things where they belong…immediately. Pick up and clean up as you go.
- NEVER Leave a dirty kitchen at night before you go to bed.
- Don’t waste trips. I have 3 floors in my home as well as a garage and carriage house. If I traveled up and down the stairs for each individual task I would be exhausted by midday. By gathering things that need to be transported to other areas I avoid multiple trips. Each time one of us goes up or down stairs or to the garage or carriage house we transport the collected items to that area.
- Develop a routine. Form a weekly plan with tasks for each day and do those tasks on that day. Each day should have a basic outline, without forgetting to take a day off.
- Incorporate the weekly meal plan into each day and know in advance that you have all of your ingredients. I normally multi task with meal prep and overall home maintenance.
Incorporating this basic outline of tasks has brought the much needed order to our daily living.
There is still one overriding problem that I have not solved. Paper, Paper, Paper…Mail, Mail, More Mail. This may be my demise. I hate the clutter it causes and the lack of organization it exhales. Paper may be the death of me. The ‘Ole Buckeye has several bad habits but what causes me the most stress is his trail of paper. The mail comes in and is deposited on the kitchen counter. Once it is opened it is either relocated to a table beside his favorite chair in the den, left on the counter, or deposited into a stack on his desk. His desk is black, but if I took a picture any day of the week it would appear to be white. This one thing has been a bone of contention over the many years we have been married. HOWEVER, I have learned not to touch. If one single piece of paper is “rearranged” it soon becomes “my fault”, if he can’t locate what he is looking for. I cannot count the times that he has spent hours looking for something that he “put away.” I refuse to be caught in the trap of loosing something for him! I don’t want to hear him ask the age old question, “Where did you put my…”. You would think with all of our current technology, paper would no longer be an issue, especially when I see how much we shred and recycle.
The paper issue aside, the induction of this retirement requirement has provided more relaxed living for me. Hopefully a future post will be titled, Retirement Requirement, Conquering Paper. (in my dreams!)
Routine provides structure and familiarity. It also provides time. Although it should not rule our lives, by following general routines we develop good habits. By continually “keeping up” we allow ourselves to relax and enjoy our home. If the door bell rings we don’t have to panic about the appearance of our home. There is no need to scramble, just to issue a welcome “come in”.