Thu, Jan 9, 2014 01:49 PM
I just moved into a new home. I did it two days after Christmas
which was not the best timing, but it saved me a boatload of money
that can go into my retirement account instead. These days, the
main focus is the retirement account and how to catch up on 40
years of underfunding.
For Boomers, moving at this age is typically about downsizing - and
I have succeeded on that front. It's a studio apartment - all of
629 square feet. I had two friends come to see it and I worried
that all three of us would not fit in here at the same time. We
made it, but if one of us had sneezed there is no telling what
damage might have been done.
I guess the last time I lived in a space this small was my dorm
room in college. When my mom drove me the 90 miles from Long Island
to New Paltz, NY, it was the first time I had ever been away from
home. My new found freedom was both exhilarating and scary, but I
got over the scary part in less than a week.
My roommate's name was Holly, also a Long Island girl. She was an
art major - along with the stereotypical artsy personality.
Easy-going, cerebral and partaking of elixirs before breakfast. In
the room across the hall was Lynn and her roommate, another art
major. Lynn and I hit it off and suggested to the two artists that
we switch roommates since they had so much in common. Though I
think they saw right through our ruse, they agreed. Two weeks later
Lynn's former roommate got homesick and dropped out of school
leaving Holly a room to herself for the rest of the semester.
But Lynn and I were happy as larks sharing that tiny box with two
closets, two beds, two desks, two dressers and a window that
overlooked the most beautiful maple tree on campus. We set about
making our sterile dorm room feel more like home. First there was
the area rug - a gold shag that I think was pulled up from my
bedroom at home when mom immediately turned my room into a den upon
my departure. It did the trick of covering the hospital-looking
linoleum and it was much warmer on the feet during the cold
winters. Unfortunately, we didn't have a vacuum cleaner. So once a
week we rolled up that carpet, dragged it down two flights of
stairs and brought it outside to shake it out - a task that would
have posed a struggle even for Hercules.
We also outfitted the room with a mini-fridge and an illegal hot
plate. Discovering quickly that the college meal plan left a lot to
be desired, we were determined to have home-cooked meals. It was a
nightly occurrence for our wing to go dark when all the hot plates
fired up at the same time and flipped the breakers. Our RA
(resident assistant) was cool about it and would tell us to be more
careful. But the resident fire marshall, a senior and "Big Man on
Campus", would read us the riot act and threaten expulsion.
Though the room was tiny and sparse, the memories created there
were happy and long-lasting. To this day, Lynn and I can fondly
recall our late-night chats, cramming for tests, listening to music
and having one of our hall mates continually sneak in and put food
coloring in our mashed potatoes and corn!
Many of us Boomers left college and started down the path of the
ever-expanding digs. There was the after-college apartment in the
city with friends, the luxury apartment as newlyweds and the
starter house that signaled a foray into settling down and becoming
responsible. The houses grew larger as the number of children, and
the salaries, increased. Once grown, the children left home making
way for the aging parents to move in, often physically or mentally
unable to live on their own.
Eventually many of us reach the point where we are ready to come
full circle. We purge the material things, simplify and move into a
senior citizen version of our dorm room.
Though my apartment resembles the size of that dorm room in Bouton
Hall at SUNY New Paltz, the similarities end there. Older, wiser
and in better financial shape than a college student, I have earned
the right to be a little picky and to treat myself to a few
Though the apartment is small and cozy, the grounds are lush. I
chose the building that overlooks an apple orchard as opposed to a
parking lot. The pool area could pass for a tropical resort
complete with cabana, big screen tv and an oversized gas grill. The
clubhouse offers free coffee, bottled water and WiFi.
I also treated myself to a shopping spree for some furniture
pieces, kitchen items and linens. My brand new set of stainless
steel pots and pans is a welcome addition to the ultra-modern
kitchen. The garden tub is deep and wide. Every appliance is
high-efficiency and brand new.
So I came full circle the Boomer way - smaller but definitely
better. The question is whether or not the memories will be as rich
and vivid as those of the past. I've got wood floors, but maybe
I'll add a gold shag rug just for the fun of it. And Lynn Bauer -
you're invited to come sneak food coloring into my potatoes.
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The Mountain Times. She can be
reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.