My wife and I recently said goodbye to the five-bedroom house where we had lived for 20 years.
While the house’s location had some unusual aspects — Eau Claire address, village of Lake Hallie, Eau Claire school district, Chippewa County — it was a wonderful spot to raise a family.
My wife, two kids — now both adults — and I celebrated countless birthdays, anniversaries and holidays in that house. We recovered from heart surgeries, hip replacements and common colds. We entertained friends and family. We took everything from first-day-of-school photos to prom pictures in what was, literally, our neck of the woods.
We spent hours watching deer and wild turkeys frolic in the backyard, often spied bald eagles flying overhead and once even spotted a black bear sprinting across the driveway.
And, of course, we did some frolicking ourselves, playing basketball in the driveway and football, soccer, golf, baseball and later kubb in the big backyard.
At some point, I’m pretty sure we even cried over spilled milk. (It was no use, as they say.)
In short, that house was home.
So when my wife and I decided it was time to move on, it wasn’t an easy choice. We had a lot of memories tied to that house — as well as a lot of stuff tucked into every nook and cranny.
When we finally settled on a condominium for our next dwelling after more than a year of looking, we knew we could take the memories with us, but not all of our possessions.
I realize some people, including my wife, find getting rid of stuff to be liberating. Not me. I found it mostly painful. (In the summer of my 40th class reunion, I suppose it was time to get rid of my high school letter jacket, but ...)
Nevertheless, we spent weeks sorting and winnowing everything from yard tools and vacation souvenirs to children’s books and household knickknacks.
We sold a lot of stuff. We donated piles of stuff. We threw out a bunch of stuff.
And yet — please don’t tell my wife I admitted this — it probably wasn’t enough, as the boxes still stacked in our garage, basement and dining room (we’ve taken to calling it the “staging area” instead) make abundantly clear to anyone who dares enter our new abode.
Throughout the process, one thought kept going through my mind: “Moving is not for wimps.”
That’s why I’ve always been amazed by those folks who seem to move every few years to gain some new feature or just to get a fresh view. More power to them, but that’s definitely not my style. Once every couple of decades is plenty in my opinion.
I must be in the minority though, as I’ve read in the Leader-Telegram that more than 1,400 homes are sold annually just in Eau Claire County and I recently saw a U.S. Census Bureau statistic showing that one of every 14 Americans between the ages of 55 and 74 moved in 2018.
As for buying a condo, I’m pleased to report that we didn’t make that decision because we no longer could take care of a large yard or clear snow from a long driveway (astute readers may question that assertion if they recall my column last winter about my struggles after the newspaper got caught in my snowblower) or even that we feared those duties would become too much to handle anytime soon.
Instead, unlike some people, we don’t really care much for those responsibilities and thought it sounded nice to save the time normally spent toiling in the yard for activities we enjoy. (Did I mention that it’s now been a month since I last mowed a lawn or pulled a weed? Where does the time go?)
OK, I promise to try to resist mocking my friends when they complain about shoveling next winter, but it will difficult, especially if we have a brutal winter anything like the last one. (Anyone else’s back still feel the effects of clearing a record 98.8 inches of snow in Eau Claire?)
The new place, by the way, is beginning to feel like home.
I hosted a fantasy football draft last week, we will celebrate our first family birthday at the new address this weekend and we’ve even had regular backyard visits from a pair of fawns and a doe.
Maybe this moving thing will work out after all.