I’VE MOVED SIX TIMES in the last 10 years. Four of those moves involved relocating less than a mile. The most recent move–from Portland, Oregon, to Phoenix, Arizona–required significantly more travel.
As a child, my family changed homes frequently. I attended five different elementary schools between first and fourth grade. I’ve never minded moving. I’m not the type of person who gets attached to a home or a particular location. I’m a firm believer that change is a good thing.
But my husband and I hope the move to Phoenix will be our last. The warm weather here is a welcome change from the rainy, gray days in the Northwest. The lifestyle within the 55-plus community where we’re now located suits us. The people are friendly. The activities are plentiful. Yard care–something I never enjoyed doing–is practically nonexistent.
We’re glad we relocated, despite leaving behind friends and family members. We’re well aware most people our age are reluctant to move. For us, it was never a question of if we would leave Oregon, but when. Now that we’re both retired, it was time to relocate.
Financially, I hate to think about how much money all those moves cost me. When I was an apartment dweller, security and cleaning deposits ate up a significant amount of cash. When I broke a lease to purchase a house, I forfeited more than $2,000. As a homeowner, closing costs, inspections and real estate agent commissions cost me tens of thousands of dollars.
There have been positive aspects to making multiple moves. I’ve significantly reduced the amount of clutter in my life. With each change of address, I purged more items. Along the way, I altered my thoughts on what was meaningful to me and what wasn’t. Many items I’d been hauling around since my college days ended up at a local donation center or in a dumpster.
I’ve pared down 55 years’ worth of personal memories to a few items that fit into a couple of large plastic bins. What have I kept? I have a shoebox filled with almost every report card I ever received. I still enjoy reading the comments written by my teachers. It seems that by third grade my personality was mostly set. “Kristine doesn’t socialize much with her peers. Instead, she spends her free time reading and writing stories.”
I have a handful of ribbons and trophies from my 4-H days. I have the scrapbooks I made for each of my dogs that document our accomplishments in different disciplines at a variety of dog shows. I have some framed photos, my high school and college diplomas, and a collection of nearly every article or story I’ve ever had published.
Technology has, no doubt, made it easier to simplify life. Most of the photos that my husband and I take these days never make it to print. Instead, they get downloaded onto a digital photo frame where they’re displayed 24/7 in our living room. Tax returns, product manuals and receipts all get scanned into digital files and stored in our online filing system.
The one thing I can’t seem to part ways with? Books.
Despite years of trying to convert to reading books on a digital platform, I just can’t seem to make the switch. Something hardwired in me prefers the feel and weight of a real book. I like to highlight passages and dog-ear pages. I like looking at the rows of books lined up on my desk that reflect the different interests I’ve had over the years. Some of the books in my collection date back to my childhood days and bring back fond memories when I flip through the pages.
Was it worthwhile to haul hundreds of pounds of books 1,200 miles to our new home? Time will tell. But if history is any indication, there’s a good chance you’ll find me sitting on our back patio, soaking up the sun, and spending my free time reading and writing stories.
Kristine Hayes retires this month from her job as departmental manager at a small, liberal arts college. She enjoys competitive pistol shooting and hanging out with her husband and their dogs. Check out Kristine’s earlier articles.