Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Making the Choice for Life

It's July 30.  I arrived in Everett, Washington 10 days ago, in a prior lifetime.

Mount Rainier, 12 days ago

Standing in the soft light slanting through the moss draped branches of a Douglas Fir forest I feel peace and contentment settle around me.

~  ~  ~

Fox Point, Wisconsin, a month earlier
I live in Wisconsin.  It's a beautiful place and I like living there well enough.  But it isn't the west coast.  I don't feel that same peace and contentment here.

So, I want to move.  But half way across the continent to a place where I don't have friends or family?  I'm 66 years old.  I don't move easily.  It's expensive.  What if I don't like it?  Where will I live?  The questions, the objections, swirl around and around.

Then I think to ask: What if I don't move?

Now I've got a different conversation in my head.  My thoughts pivot back to something my brother said to me seven years ago, when I walked away from a 40 year marriage and set out on my own.  "You're old and you don't have a family anymore.  You should just get a crappy apartment to sit in while you wait to die."  Of course he had been drinking all weekend, and he did apologize later, but there is a truth buried in that thoughtlessly worded advice.  I can choose to stay safely in my (quite nice, thank you) condominium in Fox Point or I can make the choice that, for me, brings more life: find a way to move to the west coast.  I'm not the kind to sit around waiting to die.

~  ~  ~

Everett, Washington, ten days ago
I've been to Everett before.  Well, close by that is.  Two years ago I spent a week in the area, mostly visiting Whidbey Island.  I fell in love with the place then.  But vacationing in a place and living there aren't the same thing so I came out to take a different look.

Two big questions.  The first, because it's practical and concrete and therefor easier, is what kind of housing I will be able to find.  I need to pick a city, a neighborhood.  Decide if I want another condominium or a single family home.  No matter what I choose, it's going to cost me me more than what I have now.  How much do I want to spend?  What can I get for my money?

The other question is more important but harder to a bead on. Who will I meet, how do I find the people who will make up my new life?

~  ~  ~

Everett, Washington, today
I came here concerned but hopeful.  A couple of days later the hope was disappearing fast.  I looked at a few places that are in my price range: all small and a bit trashed.  But mostly it was the isolation.  I would be embedded in a condo complex, surrounded by more of the same as far as I could see.  Who would I talk to?  How would I make contact?

Every idea I had, every new place I considered: nothing felt right, felt like I could make a home.  Again and again, nothing.  This was starting to seem like an all around bad idea.

I forget how I found Sunnyside Village; an ad somewhere I think.  From the very beginning it felt comfortably right.  Not excitement.  A calm "This is it.  This is where I feel at home."  A lot like the calm I find when standing under one of those moss draped Douglas Firs.  It is the just right balance.  Between a condominium and a single family home.  One foot in the city, the other in the country.  Gardening but not more than I can manage on my own.

But most important of all, it comes with a community.  A vibrant group of people, all ages, who are committed to getting to know each other, work together and play together.  More involved than neighbors, more independence than a commune or intentional community.  The just right balancing point between.

So here I am, sitting in an airbnb in Everett, Washington, typing up the first entry in a blog which will record my personal experience of making the transition from a condominium in Wisconsin to a cohousing community in Puget Sound, from one life to the next.