Last week while planter bowls of crocuses were giggling in the Issaquah Highlands and tulips pushed their green spears out of the earth I entered brutal, coldhearted combat at my dad’s house in California. My father and I are on great terms and I bear no grievances toward his neighbors. The campaign I waged was on the contents of his home; an initial strike of many to come against the lifetime accumulation of décor, memorabilia, furnishings and tools, ranging from highly useful and necessary to “where’d we get this??”
Dad is downsizing from 4,000 sq ft of living space and moving to a retirement home with apartments about a fifth that size. No more ride-on lawn mower – they have an army of landscapers to tend the fescue. Ample patio furniture arrangements are also offered throughout the property. You can chaise in the morning as the gentle orange blossom breeze wafts by, and bask in the afternoon beneath a ceiling of playful jacaranda. And forget the gourmet cooking tools in this senior living establishment. With three well-crafted meals a day all you’ll need is a corkscrew to open the occasional bottle of wine. When do I get to move in? Oh, right, this is for my dad.
Back to Phase One of tactical combat in the great downsizing adventure. My first strike was to determine the meaningfulness of a lifetime of house contents. Photo albums – keep. Paperbacks – donate. Aunt’s hand-thrown pottery flower vase – keep. The raffish ceramic rooster – dropkick? I began methodically at first, one book at a time, thumbing through worn and dog-eared pages. Then I started to pick up speed in categorizing all of dad’s surroundings. Whole shelves of books were flung into boxes ready for donation, the contents of desk drawers impassively dumped into bags to be “recycled”, end tables and lamps hauled into the garage and piled in a corner. Harry Potter mingled with the picnic set beneath the macramé basket. My progress was intoxicatingly callous! I became an octopus with flailing arms that sorted, piled and sifted. Until my sister called.
My sister calls, “What about Mom’s Field Guide to Western Birds? You didn’t donate that did you?!” I put a screeching halt to my organizational fluidity. “Um, errr, no! I never would have tossed that book!” I responded defensively. I ran a mental search on the discarded inventory. Western Birds? Green cover? Little black and white illustrations of birds – lots of them. Nope, there it is. Still on the shelf awaiting my next offensive strike. Phew! Crisis averted…or rather, eternal torment avoided from my older sibling who would not let me live that one down. Wait until she finds out what else I “moved”. I’d better take out a life insurance policy now.
This type of battlefront is not isolated to California’s Central Coast. Downsizing and upgrading happens on a weekly basis here in the Issaquah Highlands. Whether you are an indiscriminate packrat or a tidy Martha Stewart disciple, few escape the analysis paralysis of what to do with all the stuff. Moving will jostle you with sentimental dispute, the debate over an object’s practical application, and general overwhelm. Packing and moving is usually not simple and straightforward.
Droves of families and individuals are in the throes of this transition west of Grand Ridge. Within the next two years we will see the Forest Ridge development fill up its 85 homes, Sunset Walk completing construction on 70 townhomes, the Burnsteads adding 80 single-family homes, and Ichijo crafting its 30+ futuristic residences. What this amounts to is that over 250 homes will have their contents sifted through, agonized over, and boxed up over the next couple years, so they can ultimately be moved to the Issaquah Highlands. Whether upsizing or downsizing, those families will be waging their own organizational battles. Welcome new neighbors! May you command the piling and filing like a general!