A year ago at this time my husband and I were running in circles, selling one house and packing up to move to another. (You may remember those posts here, here and here.) We’re proper Ohioans now with the drivers licenses to prove it. We’re tweaked and finessed a builder’s spec house into something much more our own. But moving is a mental exercise as well as a physical one.
The Mental Reset is my term for the very personal process of wrapping my head around our move from the Chicago suburbs to Columbus, Ohio. I said in a holiday letter to friends and family, we were pushed by the pandemic, pulled by grandsons who were going to quickly outgrow us, and rattling around in a house that no longer fit quite right. Honestly, although we miss having our daughter nearby and seeing other friends, we have not looked back. But there are times I wonder just how we got here.
It’s not about the house you raised a family in; we’ve been empty nesters a loooong time. And it’s not about the neighborhood. We were on our fifth family next door and the fourth one across the street. It wasn’t as transient as it sounds, but people move on. It’s a fact of life.
For a lifelong Chicago girl, even the best move is a challenge.
When you relocate during your family-raising/career years, social connections are simpler. You meet people at work, at the playground, at your children’s school. Not all of them become good friends, but some do and one person leads to another leads to another. It’s different as a retiree. You have to be a bit more aggressive in reaching out to make those connections yourself. And each time you do, it’s kind of like stepping out on a new stage.
Walk up to the door, take a deep breath, smile, and step forward.
I have already shared that although we were not looking for a 55+ community, that is in fact where we landed. Frankly that has proven to be a lucky turn in our journey. This is a new community, so we are all looking to make friends; at least half of us have moved to the area to be closer to the grandchildren. We’re all learning our way around in so many ways, and there is camaraderie in that. (There’s almost no one just sitting on their front porch unless, of course, they’re recovering from a pickle ball injury.)
However, I’m not necessarily inclined to limit my social circle to the neighbors, lovely as they are, or to my son and his family, as nice as it is to be closer. So, there is church, friends I’ve made in an exercise class, and another book group. I count myself fortunate to have all these options. And I’m sure there will be others. But behind each one there was a moment to walk up to the door, take a deep breath, smile, and step forward. Sometimes — but not always — you have a partner with you; sometimes you are on your own. And sometimes you think maybe it would just be easier to stay home and read a book.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and it’s a common topic with some of the other newbies in the neighborhood. We all depend a lot on Google to get us where we’re going, but it’s not foolproof. If you turn left instead of right, your Google guide will eventually redirect you, but if you have no idea where you are, it’s tough figuring out which way is east.
I have new respect for friends who have already done this. Have you and what’s your secret? I’d love to hear about it.
Thank you so much for stopping by.