Some transitions occur quickly. Not this one. It has taken almost as long as giving birth.
Eight months ago the transition process began when we put our house in south Florida on the market. After living in our house for 20+ years, investing our labor, (not to mention our cash) to update, upgrade, and customize it, the decision to sell elicited mixed emotions. This was not just a house. It was the home we built together. Where we raised our daughters. Where we celebrated holidays and momentous family events over the years. Where we have loved and spoiled our two sweet granddaughters. Where we welcomed and entertained friends. Letting go of it came with a degree of angst, not only because of our sentimental attachments, but also the prospect of relocating to a new state and a completely different life. Even though we’ve been planning and preparing for this transition for years, actually taking the step felt a bit scary.
July 2013: We placed the house on the market in mid-July. Once we listed the house for sale, the ball was rolling. Our realtor accurately predicted that the house would generate a lot of action in the first days after listing and that we’d receive several offers rather quickly. Within 24 hours the house had been shown 13 times and we had three offers. Following the realtor’s advice we waited four days before accepting an offer. The buyer wanted to close at the end of August…6 weeks after listing! That timeline was actually shortened due to the anticipated birth of our first grandson who was due mid-August. We had planned a trip to NC to meet and welcome him and I was to spend two weeks visiting and helping my daughter after the baby was born.
August 2013: In the four weeks following accepting a sales contract, we packed, took many carloads of donated goods to Goodwill, sold furniture on Craig’s List, held a huge garage sale, and moved out, all accomplished while still working fulltime. We loaded the furniture we were keeping and most of our boxed-up possessions into a climate-controlled storage unit and moved ourselves into my brother’s empty home where we would spend the next four months, house-sitting throughout hurricane season, and inching our way toward the “Big R” (retirement.)
December 2013: In early December we celebrated the next major phase in the transition, entry into our post-career life!
After retirement was official, it was time to head for the hills! We loaded the U-Haul truck on a hot south Florida day in December and headed north the next day.
December probably seems like a strange time to make an interstate move from Florida to parts north. In fact, when asked to identify the ideal time to move from south Florida to the mountains of western North Carolina, no one queried chose winter. (Wonder why.) But that is precisely when we decided to make the trip. I admit we were a bit nervous, worried about driving a 26-foot moving van up potentially icy mountain roads. But luck was with us…when we arrived it was cold, but no ice or snow.
Our 800-mile trip was somewhat eventful (which made for some humorous tales afterward) but everything worked out in the end. We arrived safely and unloaded the truck as planned…partly into another storage unit and the rest into the house. Some of the neighbors even came out to welcome us to the neighborhood. Here’s a picture of the welcome committee.
We spent the next two and a half weeks beginning to settle into Our Mountain Nest and celebrating Christmas with our older daughter and her family. Then we closed up the house and made like snowbirds…headed for a warmer climate.
January –March 2014: We spent January and February walking on the beach, watching the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico, and playing tourist in north and central Florida. We shoveled beach sand instead of snow. We sipped cold beverages instead of hot chocolate. We slipped our feet into flip-flops instead of snow boots. And we coated ourselves with sunscreen rather than woolen garments. How fortunate we were (and wise as well) to successfully avoid dealing with the Polar Vortex and one of the worst winters on record.
Now we’re back in south Florida for a few weeks, saying our final goodbyes, and packing the rest of our belongings before embarking on final steps to at long last complete the transition. We’ll celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here before returning to the mountains along with the spring (hopefully.) I am ready to get busy making the mountain house our new home. I am looking forward to it!