Settling in to the new place
Fair Warning: This post falls into the “what I had for breakfast” category for some people. If you don’t want to read me rambling about things I like about our new home, things I’m getting used to about our new home town, how the move motivated us to take care of overdue tasks, and related topics, you’ll want to skip this. I’ll get back to the craft of writing, my love of all things sf/f, and various culture war issues soon.
So, in case you haven’t been following: we had to move from the place in Ballard that I had lived in since 1996 (and that Michael had shared with me since 1998) this year. On the one hand, it wasn’t our decision to move; on the other, the process by which the new owners of our old building went about it, we had many months notice to prepare and plan. On the gripping hand, we had to also fit in my husband’s surgery and recovery time, plus my work was even crazier with long hours than usual.
And now, after 32 years, I am no longer a resident of Seattle…
Our old place was a two-bedroom in a four-plex in a neighborhood that for many years had the reputation of “where grandmas live.” Our new place is a two-bedroom apartment in a 16-unit complex in a suburb. We’re close to three different highways with a strip mall on one side of the building, and other small apartment buildings in between single-family homes on the other.
The new place is slightly larger than the old place. It’s only 200 square feet bigger, but in many ways it feels like so much more. Part of that is that the new place has more windows and a more open floor plan. Another part is that the new place has a 38-foot long deck (which I keep insisting on calling the veranda) which is ours. At the old place I had a couple of flower beds that were mine for planting purposes, but no outdoor space that was just for us.
I like the new place. A lot.
Because the building is built on a fairly steep hill, from the front door side we’re on the second floor, but on the veranda side we’re three stories from the ground. A line of huge pine trees separate us from the strip mall and the busy six-lane thoroughfare nearby.
The biggest difference between the old and new place is the living room. The new living room is huge. So big, in face, that we’ve set up the living room furniture in one portion (maybe 60 percent) to create a cozy place for visiting with friends, and then set up a bunch of the book cases in the other part in such a way that I can refer to it as “the library” as if it were a separate room.
During the lead-up to the move and throughout the actual move, we got rid of a lot of stuff. We donated a few hundred of our paperbacks to Books Through Bars. A lot of other books were donated elsewhere or went to a used book store. Despite getting rid of several hundred books, we still had difficulty fitting all the books we had in our current bookcases when we moved. Part of that was because at the old place both of us had rather embarassingly large piles of books on our sides of the bed. Several weeks after moving in to the new place, we finally had to admit that if we wanted all of the books, DVDs, and other media discs to have homes, we would need to buy at least one more bookcase. As it is now, everything is on a shelf, and we have several partially empty shelves scattered between the rooms where bookcases reside.
Another reason the new place feels a whole lot bigger than the old is that the old place had huge (no, I mean seriously ridiculously large) closets This place has more ordinary size closets. Which means less space for storing stuff out of sight, and more space that is visible as parts of rooms. The downside is that we have less closet space, but I have to admit after being shocked and a bit embarrassed again and again at the sheer volume of junk I didn’t even remember we had that I found hiding in the back parts of those gigantic closets, one of the upsides of the new place is we have less closet space!
Seriously, I’m hopeful that we will be less likely to squirrel away a lot of stuff we really don’t need any more if we have less closet space to lose it in.
The kitchen in the new place is smaller than the kitchen at the old, but there is literally twice as much counter space and at least 40% more cupboard space. The old kitchen was big enough that both of us could be doing stuff in the kitchen and mostly not be in each other’s way. The new kitchen is more of a “one butt” kitchen. But the increased counter and cupboard space (not to mention the separate pantry, which we didn’t have before at all) more than make up for it. And a separate dining room space, which again we didn’t have before, more than makes up for the small kitchen.
It’s not just the larger space that make the new place an improvement. We also have made a lot of changes during the move. Many years ago we realized that we need to get rid of the old dressers and chests of drawers… but we kept not dealing with it. A little background: because of the series of small places Ray and I had lived in (before Ray died) and our financial circumstances at the time, a lot of our furniture was bought from used furniture places or were hand-me-downs. For the last many (many) years, Michael and I had gotten by with our clothes (and a lot of other stuff) stored in an incredibly enormous closet plus two old dressers and two weird chests of drawers. We had long suspected we could replace the dressers and chests with two much more efficient bits of Ikea furniture, but we didn’t take the plunge because the process of buying new stuff, packing up the clothes, hauling away the old furniture, getting the new stuff delivered and assemble, then unpacking into it was just a rather large amount of work.
On the other hand, since we had to pack and move everything because of the move, it was a lot easier to buy new and more appropriate furniture, while hauling the old stuff to either thrift stores or the dump.
Similarly, the very large end tables that had been hand-me-downs from my late husband’s brother-in-law were replaced with smaller (and in my opinion nicer looking) pair of tables Michael & I found at Value Village. And the gigantic and ungodly heavy solid oak entertainment center that couldn’t accomodate modern TVs was easier to donate than to move. The gigantic lamps that had been a housewarming present for Ray and I back in ’96 didn’t work on the new, smaller end tables, and were replaced with one new lamp and a bunch of old ones that had been hiding in a closet at the old place (but needed new shades).
There are things I’m still trying to get used to. The shopping situation, for instance. At the old place, we had two super markets within four blocks of our house… and then four more grocery stores within a mile. And there are certain foods that we could only get reasonably at one store, and others that were only available at one of the others. The new neighborhood has grocery stores that are all analogs of the old place, but the closest one is about a mile away from the apartment, and none of them are near each other. So my weekend shopping loops are a lot larger and therefore longer in duration.
I’m also a bit irritated that just as Seattle is having the most exciting Mayoral race in decades I’ve moved out of the city. It’s crazy: 21 candidates (I am not exaggerating), 6 of which are actually viable. And because I still work in Seattle, and Seattle is the 400-pound gorilla of the state economy, the city government is still going to have a big influence on my life. So I’m very invested in this election, but can’t use my vote to influence it. Beyond the politics, there’s the psychological aspect of it. I lived in the city of Seattle for 32 years. Before that, the longest I had lived anywhere was 9 years (half my teens and a chunk of my 20s) in Longview. I didn’t realize until we’d actually moved just how much being a Seattlite had become a part of my identity. And yeah, I’m just outside the city and I ride the bus into the city to work every day, but it is a shift. City boundaries are just imaginary lines on the ground. It shouldn’t matter.
Speaking of which, I also find it amusing that the place we found to live is at the far side of Shoreline, literally just a few blocks from the boundary of another neighboring city. There’s a road I turn onto just a four blocks away to get to one of the grocery stores I mentioned above, and during the course of the two mile drive, my car will cross into and out of the cities of Shoreline, Edmonds, and Mountlake Terrace. And when I stop of said grocery store, I’m only about five blocks from the boundary to the City of Lake Forest Park. It’s all just lines on the map, but it’s also a little weird, you know?
It started to feel like home, rather than just the new place we’re moving to, a bit over a month after the actual move. There are still a lot of things I’m getting used to. And the process would go faster if, coincidentally, work hadn’t blown up into overtime every single week right about the time that we turned over the keys to the old place.
But we’re getting there!