I wrote the following post about a year and a half ago. I feel like it explains the beginning of our quest to simplify our lives and find meaning in small pleasures again. We were at a point that can only be summarized by a quote from Fight Club “The things you own, end up owning you.”
I still had wrapping paper on the floor and legos covering the kitchen table…but I found myself deep in thought about the coming month. We were selling our piece of the American dream and moving to a much smaller condo.
It was exhilarating. It was terrifying.
It is liberating to simplify.
For nearly three years, we’d lived in a large and spacious home. The kind that I would stare at as a child and imagine happy families and big noisy dinners. I dreamed of smoothly polished wood floors and pink princess bedrooms. Green lawns and bike rides through the neighborhood. Christmas in front of a tall stone fireplace. A house to grow up and grow old in.
Our house was “the dream home”. It was everything I imagined….only I didn’t imagine how much work it would be. I never dreamed it would take so many hours of my life to clean it and care for it. It was supposed to be our happy place. Instead, it felt like a second job.
I had chosen everything. The tiles, the lights, the furniture, the finishes. I lived and breathed for that house for years. Everything was personal…but I knew it would take maybe a decade to make it a home. There were empty rooms…rooms we didn’t have a clue what to do with. Two offices, two libraries, too many bathrooms, extra living areas, bonus spaces. Too much.
We took a good hard look at the amount of time we were spending on the house…vs the amount of joy we were receiving. The mowing, the mulching, the cleaning, the snow removal, the everything. It was eating our days and nights as a family.
Sure. We loved the house–it was everything that we were supposed to want. It just didn’t gel that we had so much unused space and it was so much work in return. We forgot what it was like to being able to veg on the couch on a Saturday without imagining how high the grass was growing outside. This was a house for people with staff. This was not us…not us at all.
We scheduled furnace check ups, gutter cleaning, lawn maintenance, hot water heater maintenance, and shoveled snow from the roof and the driveway. I actually had a weekly schedule of flushing unused toilets!
And I can’t help but recall that famous song…”Is that all there is?”
I started taking long drives during the day to get away and cruised through the neighborhoods with huge homes that I used to imagine living in. There always seemed to be some type of service truck parked outside: landscaping, plumbing, painting, windows, gutters, roofers. For some, it could be a labor of love. For us…it felt like more labor than love.
I was embarrassed to tell people how many bathrooms we had. It became apparent that we only lived in 20-30% of the space we owned. I could recall few get togethers without days of cleaning and prep work to make the unused space look the way that it should.
We began to talk about buying something smaller.
Do people downsize when they have two small kids? Wasn’t that something you did when everyone grew up and you no longer needed that big home?
It became painfully obvious that we were not using the space. “The house” was some third person entity. Part pride…part burden.
Living should have been easier than this.
It took nearly a year to sell it. Then, we had a month to leave it.
I think that I have finally processed losing the ideal of the home. I grieved it for several months…hoping it wouldn’t sell. Then, I felt myself hoping it would. The universe seemed to be listening. We sold over Christmas that year…and were able to move downtown at the beginning of the summer.
It was time to start fresh. It was time to live smaller.
It’s time to move forward.