Saturday, May 7, 2016

          According to statistics, less than 1.72% of Americans move after the age of 70. Most of those who do, move within the same county. There are no statistics about wild and crazy septuagenarians who move out of state. Well, guess what? That would be us. Yup. Daddy always said, “Don’t be a sheep. Don’t follow the crowd. Be the leader, not the follower.” Thanks, Dad, I think. 

     As we are poised to make the biggest move of our lives, moving from North Carolina to Florida, our emotions are mixed, mostly mine. Mr. Wonderful can’t wait to live in a climate
where he can breathe (asthma sufferer), where he will not be plagued by NC pollen (allergic to everything, including me), and where he can be outside 24/7. He dreams of tennis daily, kayaking often, no lawn or shrub maintenance, no traffic issues because there’s only one road to take us anywhere in town. He doesn’t realize how much he will miss his friends or the pride of the beautiful custom home we so joyfully built together ten years ago.

      Then there’s me. I will miss everything and everyone, including our beautiful home that is different than everyone else’s (and, thus so difficult to sell). I will miss my friends, the beautiful women who have been there supporting me, laughing at and with me and sharing all the fun and crap of retirement living as we try desperately to maintain our youthful looks and attitudes. These few women are strong, resilient, smart and savvy. Of all the women I have met in the ten years since our move-in, the few who remain my closest friends are those who listen, care, share and dare. We are all risk-takers, forging ahead despite our age to find our place. We are not afraid to step far outside our comfort zones, and we embrace those who do the same. We love our men, while laughing at their idiosyncracies. We complain about them occasionally, but we wouldn’t trade them for the world. We love our kids, and we roll our eyes at the fact that no matter how old they are, they are still kids, and we worry and fret about them. 

     I will also miss the identity I have so tediously created for myself after leaving the career I cherished. As a high school and college teacher, I loved every minute in the classroom. Leaving my students was almost as hard as leaving my family. I came here on the pretext that I had a teaching job. When it was taken out of my hands soon after we arrived, I was left with no identity, no friends or acquaintances and no clue how I would survive in this new place. Little by little, we both found resources to forge new lives, and now the one I’ve created, I love. Nonetheless, we dare to leave, and I must focus on repeating the process in a brand new place where we know seven people (seven more than the last move). 

     What would  you miss if you were to move to another state at this point in your life? Would you have reservations? What would you miss about your house? What would make you want to move?

     At 70+, there are no re-dos. This is it. People say to us, “Why would you move to Florida? It’s so hot there, and everyone is old?” We love “hot,” as we are always cold, and we are old. That pretty much shuts up the naysayers. Most of these people haven’t been to Florida for years, and the “old people” they talk about are now them. There are plenty of young people where we will live. We saw them at restaurants and theaters last week, and it makes for a vibrant community.It depends on the lens we choose when we look at things. 

     To be honest, I fought this move for the past two years. I didn’t want to go, and I still have my reservations. The idea of change and a fresh slate, however, have helped to win me over, and I’m ready for a new adventure. The one thing I’ve learned through several moves throughout my life is that we take ourselves everywhere we go. I will be the same person with the same temperament, the same tragic flaws, the same DNA.

     Moving won’t solve problems; there will be fun and shit no matter where you go. It depends on how you handle it as to how happy you will be. So fun and shit, here I come.