Our Need for Change

Our house for sale, in case you know anyone…

Our house for sale, in case you know anyone…

Lydia and I are currently in the weeds of major change. We're planning a move to Mexico - trying to sell our house, learning as much as we can about all of the legal, practical and financial hurdles that face us, working hard not to spend too much time online house hunting, keeping everything in realtor “show condition” while simultaneously ignoring our next door neighor's mega pool addition, figuring out what to do with all our possessions that won't be making the journey to Mexico, not to mention calculating the cost of moving what we'll need down there. On top of the move we're also dealing with the frustration of not know what our budget is until the house actually sells. And worst of all, it's all happening in slow motion.

Until now, change for us has always been an exercise in instant gratification. We meet and get married. We move from San Francisco to a sailboat in San Diego. We move from the boat to Florida with a week's drive across country. We spend one night in Charleston then move here. You get the picture? We make a decision and then implement it. No second-guessing. No waiting on others. It seems like we decided to move to Mexico faster than it typically takes Lydia to pick an ice cream flavor, which can take an agonizingly long time.

Ah, but selling a house, at least our house, clamps the brakes on the entire process. Now, in between all the busy stuff, we have this thing called time. Time to worry about the house not selling. Time to gripe about our neighbors building a giant pool house 10 feet from our property line. Time to think about not being 5 miles from our grandkids. Time to be bored. And yes, time to reconsider all of the above.

The good news is that everything seems to reinforce our original decision. Though the disposition of the house will determine our final timetable, Lydia and I are ready for change.

Change: Running from or Rushing To?

I'm dangerous when I have too much time on my hands. In this case, I've been mulling the nature of change. In making this move to Mexico are we embracing change or trying to escape it? And, of course, who cares?

In our culture, we always want to think of ourselves as embracers of change, guiding events and not being guided by them. While our opponents cling to the past we rush to explore the future. It's a big part of our myth. It's what we believe makes us exceptional.

But now that I've had time to think about change, it seems to me that our reaction to it is simultaneously positive and negative. We don't so much run to embrace change as we're pushed into its embrace. While it's true that we see opportunity in this change, that's not what catalyzed the decision. Instead, it was a host of mostly unrelated events that forced us to consider the big move.

First, on the financial front, our town and our HOA decided that we don't have the right to generate income from short term rentals (aka AirBnB), thus reducing our income by about a third. This was the final push. Leading up to that, we'd been feeling under-appreciated as grandparents. And since we're only 5 miles apart, but unable to communicate these feelings, friction was building. Finally, there was the constant, irritating and unavoidable drone of politics, local and national.

Before the town started considering its position on short term rentals, and certainly before the HOA decided to fine us $5000, we were growing tired of hosting strangers. We'd already spent 4 years as AirBnB Superhosts, hosted hundreds of people from all over the world and actually had a lot of fun doing it. But the writing was on the wall. Two or three more years, we thought, would be enough. That timetable fit with our overall retirement plan that would probably also involve selling the house. Once I turned 70 in 2021 we'd begin the next chapter. We didn't make it.

As for kids and grandkids, suffice it to say that we took issue with the way our relationship was being managed, and, unfortunately, I do mean managed. Sometimes distance can be a good thing.

Finally, it may seem petty to include politics as an underlying cause of all of this, but the role is clear. The more you here “love it or leave it,” and I've been hearing it since the '60s, the more often you consider your options. And to make matters worse, the meanness and the willingness to throw good will to the wind, this “Love it or Leave it” attitude has worked its way down to the neighborhood level. Neighbors have actually said that to host strangers can only mean that we can't afford to live where we do, so we should feel free to move elsewhere. OK then.

All of that said, does our move to Mexico indicate our innate courage in the face of adversity, an American's embrace of the brave new world, or are we just running away from change we don't like?

While my ego would prefer to think the former, it's now pretty obvious to me that Lydia and I are running from unwanted change ,while looking forward to the opportunities to follow. That could be worse. We could be running away, blaming others for our bad luck, while living in fear of what lies ahead.

It's Still an Adventure

No matter whether we're running from or rushing to, our move to Mexico is something we're really looking forward to. It's a challenge and we've always done pretty well when challenged.

While you, dear reader, have every right to scratch your head at the end of this, since I did raise the question of why this rumination matters, stop first and consider this. Over the last decade or so I've become a pretty self-satisfied “thinker.” [I use quotes because I'm the only one I know of who sees me as a thinker.] And one of the things I've been most proud of is my willingness to consider new ideas and embrace change. These qualities, of course, have made me feel superior to all reactionaries and deniers (just sayin'). While I still have no patience for those who deny science, because they will be responsible for the world we leave to our grandkids, I do now wonder if I've underestimated those who fervently believe in pushing politics to the right. Just as events are pushing us to Mexico, change is also forcing a large percentage of the population to consider more nationalistic measures on political and economic fronts. And while I don't agree with their solutions, I should give them credit for trying to find opportunity in these changes, instead of just accusing them of running from change altogether.

Maybe we have more in common than I thought. After all, we share an enemy: the status quo.

Mike PontiusComment