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.