Monday, October 17, 2011

Simple Life




It’s time. I’m back. I have thought about this blog, and how I’ve neglected it, on just about every day that I have ignored it. It’s time to jump back in.

Colorado is wonderful. Just as we knew it would be. The climate. The mountain scenery that greets me when I drive to the small town grocery store. The elk herds that seem to enjoy the grass that grows just outside our back window. The endless list of outdoor activities. The droves of young families I see on trails and in the grocery store, all decked out in Patagonia gear. The high concentration of Jeeps and Subarus, each seeming to be stocked with a token Golden Retriever, Lab, or mix of the two.

My big girl is still back in New York, working two jobs and getting ready to dive back into school. Her brother, my college freshman, is working hard in Utah, loving his aviation program at Westminster College.

So that leaves us with only two kids at home. A fifteen year old who is thrilled that he can get a permit to drive in Colorado, when he would have had to wait until his 16th birthday in New York, and his 10 year old brother, who is counting down the days until he turns 11 next week.

The NY house is still on the market. After almost six months of deep price cuts, we are now over ten grand below what we paid for it. The New York market has tanked, and taken our house with it.

This means we are indefinitely residing in a small temporary condo. It has 800 square feet. Two small bedrooms, a galley kitchen, and a small living/dining area. The boys are surviving in such close quarters because they are seldom home. For hours after school they ride their bikes up the mountain trails nearby, or play with friends from the condo unit. On weekends we explore the Denver area and discover new places to play.

I’ve always said that I’d rather live in a cardboard box with my family near me, than to live in a mansion alone, and I guess I’m being challenged on that proclamation.

And I still say it’s true. I’m practically living it, and it’s true.

All our stuff is still in New York. We are surrounded by only what fit in the minivan on the drive out. Photo boxes, personal files, ski equipment and bikes had to be priority, so that left little room for extras.

Once we got here we bought a lovely, large kitchen table with six chairs at the thrift store. Its top is scratched up (Jeff wisely suggested it had been someone’s craft table) but it does the job. Our home computer is set up on one end of it, we eat dinner and do homework on the other. Best hundred bucks I’ve spent in a long time.

Otherwise, we’re pretty sparse on furniture. We sleep on three mattresses on the floor, and use boxes stacked sideways for a ‘dresser’. The last tenants left an old desk, which works out great for holding the $25 thrift store TV and leaves enough room for Lego building. We found a TV stand by the side of the road and it does the job of a bedside table, separating the boys beds. A small shelving unit, found sitting next to the dumpster, keeps all the kids’ school papers in order.

That’s it. The place is pretty empty, beyond the basic clothes, shoes and little bit of personal effects the boys brought with them. But it’s kind of nice. I have to say, I don’t really miss the stuff yet.

Life is very streamlined. It takes 15 minutes to ‘pick up the house’. The whole house. Vacuuming is finished in 7 minutes. There is virtually no dusting to be done. I have no bookcases full of books, or shelves with knick knacks. Everything in this house is here deliberately. It’s needed and used on a regular basis, or it wouldn’t have made the cut.

I have the luxury of knowing all that junk I care about is still out there. The tub with my mom’s personal effects, that I’ve moved around the country with me since she died. The box of journals from my childhood. The brass musical statues I adore, that have their place on a specific bookshelf. My dozens (hundreds?) of ‘favorite’ books. It all still exists and will be reunited with us some day.

But for now life is really simple. Peacefully and wonderfully simple. To keep the bills low, while we support two house payments, we’ve only signed up for internet service. No land line. No cable. The TV is used for occasional video games and our Friday night Red Box movies (when we stack the two single mattresses against the wall, line it with pillows, and pretend it’s our couch). Hulu gives us occasional episodes of favorite TV shows.

Have I mentioned that despite the temporary-ness of our situation, we’re all really content?

The boys have their basic needs met. Now that mom is back in their time zone, they have regular hot meals and clean laundry continues to show up in their cardboard box dressers. They get lots of fresh air, lots of exercise, lots of new experiences with new friends. There is no lawn to mow, leaves to rake or household chores to take up their free time.

Hubby loves his job. Now that he’s not worried about being the sole parent to two boys adjusting to a new life in a new state, he gets to ‘just’ do his job well. He is making his mark in his new office and seems relaxed when he shares stories of the adventures of his days. It’s really, really good to see.

And me. I have not shaken the feeling that we’re on a perpetual vacation. The slim living conditions remind me of the months we’ve spent living at a Residence Inn, on other cross country moves. Life was always pretty streamlined in those months too. A lot of my ‘mom’ responsibilities were condensed. If it weren’t for the fact the cleaning staff doesn’t show up every morning, I’d almost believe we were back at the Residence Inn.

And how can you not feel like you’re on vacation, when you live in a place where many people do spend their holiday hours and money? Just about every time I’ve driven home from the grocery store, and come over one certain rise in the road, where the valley is laid out beneath you and the mountains rise up in a different majestic fashion depending on the day’s cloud patterns and sunshine, I suck in my breath and think, ‘And I live here…’.

We’ve found amazing bike parks and endless bike paths in several parts of Denver and the surrounding area. We’ve driven mountain roads, pausing for wildlife to slowly cross, in their own time. We’ve laughed a lot, as we’ve had time to be with each other a lot, and share our family sense of humor. We’re moving quickly into ski season, where we hope to get season passes to the small mountain just 30 minutes up the road, and maybe sneak in a few hours on the slope before dinner some weeknights. The list is long, of other areas we want to explore and friends we want to visit all over the state.

Someday we’ll have a house. Someday we’ll have our flat screen TV back on the wall, with football games roaring out of it every Sunday afternoon (boy, do I miss that!) Someday we will all have room to spread out, and be surrounded by the things that we love. But in the meantime, we’re not suffering.

We’re doing everyday life things. Going to school. Going to work. Attending teacher conferences. Buying groceries. Making dinner. Doing laundry.

But it’s all streamlined. It all feels much more simple. I have to admit - I’m really liking this vacation lifestyle.

1 comment:

theelfqueen said...

Have you made it down to the Springs or over the hill to Woodland Park yet? If you do, I'd love to see you!