I’ve never felt so old!
Of course, I’ve never been so old, but then everyone can say that, even a six-year-old. We are always, on any day, the oldest we have ever been.
The difference, I suppose, is that today I know I’m old. I know it in my bones. And I understand in a way I never have before what knowing something in my bones means.
The reason for this surge of new understanding? I’ve just moved.
Age precipitated the move. For most of the last decade I have been renting a lovely, two-story house with a tuck-under garage which made it a three-story house when I carried groceries or laundry up from the basement.
I’ve never had a problem with stairs. I saw stairs as good exercise built into my day. My partner’s and my bedrooms and my study were all on the second floor and the laundry room was in the basement along with the garage, so I was happily up and down those stairs many times every day.
Or at least I was happy until some stress in my lumbar spine began to cause occasional leg weakness. When I found myself holding both banisters and pulling myself up the stairs very slowly, I began to reconsider.
We looked at senior residences, but I didn’t feel ready. Yes, I know I’m eighty. I should be ready, but I’m not. Even though I began my career in the corner of a bedroom, I couldn’t imagine giving up my study, and senior residences with two bedrooms and a usable study are almost impossible to find. Besides, giving up a house is giving up having my own private patch of the outdoors on the other side of my door. And that patch of outdoors feeds my soul.
So we began looking. We began more than a year ago actually with a very patient realtor. But we couldn’t get on the same page and nothing that we saw was quite . . . it. Until, finally, it was. The house we’d dreamed came onto the market in the afternoon. We let our realtor know we wanted to see it now. We spent twenty minutes walking through. Then we leapt.
And we’ve been landing ever since.
We got the house, the loan, the movers. We got the boxes and the tape and the enormous rolls of bubble wrap.
And we started packing.
And sorting. I spent two days sorting through the files in my study, more than forty years worth of professional files and personal ones, too, such as a forgotten treasure-trove of letters surrounding my son’s death. Then I spent more days sorting and culling books.
Until the day came when everything went onto a truck except for us and Sadie, our one-eyed sheltie.
It all came off the truck and we were here!
And we were so, so tired.
And I, at least, suddenly knew myself to be old. Very, very old.
But today, at last, my study is up and working. No pictures on the walls yet, but I sit here at my familiar keyboard with three yellow tulips in a purple vase at my side and a new yard yet to be explored stretching beyond my window. And I am so glad to be 80 and looking ahead to the all-on-one-floor future, however long or short it may be.
And I am glad, once more, to gather words and see them appear on the screen before me. This is it, my heart says. I am home.
And I am.