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September 2017
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October 2017


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was my home for fifty-eight years; Washington, DC has been my home for five days.

No longer can I hop on my bicycle and be in Harvard Square in minutes. No more are the Boston Red Sox my home team. My closest friends now live four hundred miles away.  It’s a bit daunting.

So far, my new life in DC is all about boxes. They are everywhere, begging to be unpacked. Despite all our de-accessing, we still have too much.  And no clue as to where everything will go.

We face a lot of challenges and adjustments.  But the community we have joined has welcomed us and we know it’s only a matter of time until we feel at home.  And although we miss our friends, our grandchildren are now nearby.  That’s why we are here.

Still, there are a lot of boxes.

The Move

Three months ago, we decided to uproot ourselves from Cambridge, Massachusetts and move near our grandchildren in Silver Spring, Maryland, 400 miles away. Three months did not seem like enough time to make this major transition, but somehow we got through the seemingly endless to-do list it required: sell our house, repair all the “defects” discovered and invented by our buyer’s inspector, sell or give away non-essential-but still-loved-possessions, meet (and like) our buyers, and say goodbye to friends, neighbors and Massachusetts.

When the movers came on a beautiful New England fall day to pack up our belongings, I couldn’t do much but watch. When they returned the next day to load our belongings on the truck, I couldn’t do much but watch and eat all the coffee ice cream left in the freezer so it wouldn’t go to waste. (My friend Joanie who came to lend psychological support also helped me with the ice cream.)

Just after noon, we took off in our car containing Seth who came from New York to share the driving, Peter, my huge Boston fern and me. Eleven hours later, we arrived in Maryland, exhausted after what should have been an eight-hour trip, lengthened by traffic jam after traffic jam.

And maybe not quite ready for our new life.

Hard Sell

When it comes to moving from a home to an apartment far away, de-accessing has got to be up there with leaving old friends. In some cases, maybe harder than old friends. Two examples:

When Peter was into table-building, (In summer he changed from his life of teaching to his life of sawing and staining.) he built the following: a picnic table with two benches, two coffee tables in the style of Design Research (a modern furniture store) and a more traditional coffee table. One table is in Seth’s apartment, one is I don’t know where, but an antique dealer bought the last (and my favorite), probably because he thought it was made by a professional furniture maker. Seeing that table go out the front door was wrenching, but there is no room for it in our new life.

And then there was my exercise bicycle. At 6:10 a.m. every weekday morning, I did thirty minutes of interval training on the bike, but there is no room for it in our new home either. We advertised it on Craig’s List and the first guy to call drove an hour to see it. He said he’d been looking for that model for a long time. We worried when we saw he was alone because it weighs a ton and needed to be carried upstairs from the basement. No problem for him. He just took it apart. He was thrilled. and we were relieved.

And a little sad.

Cowering in the Kitchen

The men who collect our trash each week are heroes. Unlike the mailman who sometimes just doesn’t show up when it’s raining, they’re here once a week, no matter what

Lately, I’ve been a difficult client. I’ve put out at least one extra barrel containing lots of the things that have been hidden under the eaves in the attic or in a corner of the basement for years. Some I tried (unsuccessfully) to find another home for and just didn’t want to move.

I was particularly embarrassed this week. In addition to the barrels, I put out large framed posters that I couldn’t give away, an old lampshade, a couple of pathetic brooms, and more.

When I heard the familiar sound of their truck approaching, I held my breath, awaiting the arrival of the trash police. But troopers that they are, the trash collectors carted away all those memories.

Last Visit

The John F. Kennedy School of Government, my second home for so many years, has just completed a beautiful expansion to its campus.  I was still working when they broke ground five years ago, and we endured lots of pounding and screeching noises during my last year. 

I wanted Peter to see the magnificent transformation, including an additional new building, a large and beautiful eating area with a majestic stairway, a “winter garden,” and some new high-tech classrooms.

Bobby, my favorite security guy was at the desk when we entered and greeted me warmly.  In the new café with its multiple food stations, Gilda, its manager, hugged me.  Oscar, my favorite maintenance guy, still on the job, gave me a big smile.

We went to a talk by the former U.S. Secretary of Defense about his decision to open up all military positions to women. He talked about the importance of being able to choose the best candidates for the military from all the four million young people who turned eighteen each year and a number of other important issues.

I know that there will be similar events in our new hometown. But it will take us a while to figure it all out.


Watching Paint Dry

The City of Cambridge offers its residents one day every other month during which they can dispose of hazardous waste. Because we were out of town for September’s drop-off day, our neighbors took two cartons of I-don’t-know-what to the collection site for us. But we didn’t think we should ask them to take the thirteen cans of paint we had in our basement.

So for the last six weeks, because you can put dried paint in the regular trash, I have been watching paint dry, paint that matches every room in the house, base coat, egg shell finish, whatever.

I developed a routine. On the patio step in early morning sun. On the patio table at noon. Mid-afternoon in the backyard sun. And, at near-sunset, on the front stoop. In the garage if it rained.

A week ago, someone suggested pouring the paint in a thin layer in a paper box cover lined with newspapers and rolling the newspapers up when dry. Not bad, once I got the hang of it. Then someone suggested kitty litter—great idea, but I was close to the end.

Peter, who is not a fan of golf, says watching it on TV is like watching paint dry. I get it.

The Running Group

My husband Peter was a professor of computer science at Boston College for thirty-something years. He retired fourteen years ago. He loved his job and you could say that he had a great “run” there.

He also had a great running group. Those who were free would meet daily around noon at the BC sports complex to run around the nearby Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

When Peter’s first BC “boss”, one of the runners and now the president of a college in Vermont, heard that we were leaving Massachusetts, he decided to gather the group last Sunday to honor Peter.

It was a marvelous tribute. Six runners showed up to send us off. We had a private room at an Italian restaurant. This group knows how to drink and there was lots of merriment.

Since we couldn’t all talk to everyone, I suggested each person take a minute to catch us up on their work, their families, and their plans.

It was a joyous occasion, and once more, I was reminded that I am not the only one who loves Peter. But I do love him best.

Meeting the Buyers

When the negotiations with the people who are buying our house got a little complicated, Peter and I wished we could talk directly with our prospective buyers. After all, we had exchanged emails (through the brokers, of course). They wrote about how much they wanted our house and we wrote about how they seemed right for it).

Once all the issues were resolved, we found our buyers via Google and emailed them an invitation to come visit.

It was a beautiful Saturday and the house was filled with sunshine when they arrived--Mom and Dad and their five and seven-year-old daughters. Mom brought us a loaf of banana bread, still warm from the oven, a classy touch.

Since we only have grandsons, I asked if I could give the girls a grandmotherly welcome hug and they agreed. We were off to a great start.

We sat on our patio, ate banana bread and told them about our wonderful neighborhood. We shared our backgrounds. We told them about a few quirks of the house, showed them the notebook we had prepared about how things work. We asked them if they wanted some things we were giving away or selling.

When they left, the mom gave me a big hug.

We wish them all the joy that this house has given us.

Charm Bracelet

Selling a house brings a whole new cast of characters into your life. There are the realtors and inspectors. There is the woman who helps you decide what to take, sell or trash. There are the movie theater ticket takers who wonder why you keep showing up. (They don’t know that realtors want you away when they have open houses and that realtors like to have lots of open houses.)

I’m not sure how I found Lee, an antiques dealer who loves old costume jewelry. When he came by to look at some dining room furniture we were selling, he asked me if I had any old jewelry to part with.

I did.

Tucked away in a desk drawer wrapped in a sandwich-sized plastic bag was my childhood sterling silver charm bracelet.  When my parents gave mine to me, it had only one charm, scissors that actually opened and closed. Over the years, I added a treasure chest containing a pearl necklace, a high-heeled shoe, a tube of lipstick that actually pushed up and down and more. I kept it all these years to give to my first granddaughter.

But I have only grandsons.

I thought about saving it for one of their daughters, but when you are about to move, saving anything that is not essential for your daily life seems silly. So I sold my charm bracelet to Lee in the hope that a little girl somewhere would love it.

Now, alas, I know the meaning of seller’s remorse.