Thursday, June 4, 2009

Downsize vs. downgrade

Every Thanksgiving and every Easter, I host dinner. Usually for about 20 people. In my dining room.

On Christmas Eve, we have an open house. Generally? 50 people. In my house.
When I turned 40, we had a dance party. With a band. In my living room. I loved that party.

I have four kids, and at one point in time, Tim and I lived in this house with four kids, and all that goes along with having four kids -- which means there are always at least six kids around.

Maggy and Taylor are grown up and moved out. Erinna is living with her mom, coming over for the occasional weekend. I don't begrudge her the fact that she wants to spend her weekends with her friends. She's 16. Been there/done that. But the point is, she doesn't live here anymore.

It's me, Tim and Carlie. And the cats. Sharing four bedrooms, three full baths, a large family room, a living room, dining room and kitchen. Sometimes, it feels like a bit much. We could make do with so much less.

Add to that, our mortgage. Because our mortgage? Is big. We bought our house cheap. Really cheap. And over the years we've refinanced it and used that equity. We don't have car loans. We own property near the coast without a mortgage. But to say it's without a mortgage or we don't have car payments is kind of a lie, because those payments? Are now just included in our mortgage, which is too high.

And when I say too high, I mean too high for my liking. Not too high for us to manage. But I? Really don't want to work so much anymore. I want to work less. Tim would like to work less too. And we could do that, with a smaller mortgage.

I am in love with the idea of downsizing, and simplifying and getting back to basics. The idea of it. But the reality of it? Not so much.

Because you know what I also love? Stuff. I love my stuff. I don't want to let go of my stuff. My box of high school year books? Keeping it. The box of "congratulations on your baby" cards that are 22, 20 and 10 years old? Yeah, keeping those too. The hundred knit and crocheted blankets and afghans (not to mention the quilts) that were made by my crafty mom and Tim's crafty mom? They're not going anywhere, thank you very much.

We have a lot of stuff. I like having my stuff. Even when it is in boxes and I don't use it. I like knowing it's there. And I don't want to get rid of it.

I like being able to entertain and have parties. Love it, in fact. You can't really do that when you are living simply and only occupying the amount of space you really need.

I want to downsize, but I don't want to downgrade. Not the quality of our home and not our quality of life.

So now? I'm obsessed with townhomes. Smaller? Check. Less expensive? Check. Gorgeous landscaped pools and spas? Checkity check check. Totally and completely different than the way we live now. No yard = no bbq's and no garden. But also? No mowing and landscaping.

It's a toss up.

I'm in a place right now where I either want to keep things the same or REALLY CHANGE. No in between. No moving to a similar but less expensive house down the street. If we're going to do this? Let's do it big.

The whole thing is making me bipolar. One minute, I'm bagging up shit for Goodwill and packing my bags. The next? I'm looking at photos and sobbing, feeling like my home is being ripped away from me. Which? It totally is not. And then the reality kicks in every now and then, if I just shut up and work full time, none of this is even an issue.

Right now? Gorgeously landscaped pools and spas are really calling to me.


Kathy said...

Sure you can do it. You can downsize, live a simpler life yet a very full and exciting one too. And you don't have to get rid of the stuff that's important to you. Look at my little house...and look at the size of parties I throw, yes? I think they're sort of fabulous(although maybe my guests are lying to me and hate coming over, though I doubt it). I think you'll have a townhouse-they are just bigger apartments with people living on top of each other. uck

Kathy said...

I can't freaking spell today! I meant to say you'll hate living in a townhouse, not have. oy

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I need you to keep that house so I can live in it vicariously, since I do the same bipolar self-talk about our house here on the east side.

Sorry I won't be of any help at all...

OneTiredEma said...

Well, we ARE downsizing (for now), but it's going to cost a mint because it involves moving to another fucking country and having to make life again from scratch. Most of our furniture we will attempt to sell (and buy anew in the proportions appropriate to the size of rooms, etc.), and some STUFF will be coming with us, but I am going to think long and hard about those papers from second grade and the umpteen yearbooks full of people to whom (without Facebook) I would never even give a second thought.

But some of the baby stuff will be hard--I can't really choose between the blanket my MIL made and the blanket one of my dad's patients made. Gah. I want to wake up in September when it's all done and see how it turned out--I don't want to do it.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

Yours is the house I long for right now, to entertain better.

But there's always that discussion right?

Jen on the Edge said...

I just moved into my dream house -- the one that we spent five years planning -- and I've been fantasizing about what kind of retirement home we'll build in 25 years. I am not kidding. I love my new house but I am already thinking about downsizing significantly after the girls grow up.

Keetha said...

Downsizing sounds great - I admire how responsible and all you're being.

Change is scary!

Aren't I helpful? Next time you need some cliches, just let me know.