Tales of a Tindominium
How I downsized my dwelling and grew my life. We all talk about it. We are the Baby Boomers. Watergate. Vietnam. Birth Control. Marijuana, Zero Population Growth, Organic. Lots more. Here we are, children of the sixties, entering our final chapters on the planet. Who knew the day would ever come? And for so many, it passed prematurely. For those of us still here, forging ahead as some of us like to think toward new adventures, we got to thinking, why do we have all of that stuff? What were we thinking? Where did it come from and more importantly, how can I get rid of it. The winter of 2015 was the winter from hell. Steve and I had lived in Scituate, Massachusetts, since 1983. I had summered there my whole life. My great grandmother, Catherine, had purchased land on Kenneth Road when her daughter, my grandmother, gave birth to a premature infant who did not have the benefit of an incubator and suffered brain damage. Catherine built a summer cottage on it, thinking the salt air would be good for her grandbaby. Nanna died in that house at the age of 106 and her baby lived in it until he was 85. Steve and I had decided Scituate was a good place to raise kids, and it was. We purchased a house two doors down from Nanna. My parents had retired to a cottage in the middle. Our home was less than 200 feet from an ocean that could be gentle or insanely aggressive. The weather was savagely unpredictable. The satellite trucks from local media outlets often parked at the foot of our street poised for the latest coastal shots. We were fortunate never to be directly hit by waves, but we had a clear view of waves splashing over the seawall like geysers. We had quite an adventure and loved almost all of it, but we knew the ride was over. That snowy frigid winter of 2015 found us huddled in front of the fireplace on our couch in the living room, stirring soup or chili in our kitchen, or buried under feather comforters in our bed. When we opened the front door, often there was an imprint of its panels embedded on four feet of snow. Our 14 year-old outdoor cat had to use a litter box because the snow was too deep to let her do her business. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. We had been going to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for nearly thirty years and you can be sure we didn’t skip 2015. Over the years, we had dreamed of retiring there. We had even put a deposit on a lot in 1987. Unfortunately it was a week before Black Monday. But our conversations were a little more concrete this trip. No Virgin Island, my first mystery, was being published in August. Set in St. John, I had a contract to write a second. Our connection to St. John felt a little more permanent. Using three rooms in a ten-room house began to feel ludicrous and wasteful. The gardens we had grown as a younger Steve and Michele now were becoming more of a burden than a joy, and anyone who has known the delight of a garden understands how disheartening that discovery might be. Property taxes were rising. Worse, FEMA threatened to make owning even modest coastal property financially inconceivable with new flood insurance rates. The good news is that none of this made us feel old or finished. We just weren’t sure if we owned our house or our house owned us. And we wanted to sprout wings. To feel light and unencumbered. To try a new lifestyle. To simplify. To have new adventures. To explore. We came home from St. John in May after a three-week visit to our favorite rental home where No Virgin Island had been conceived and set and committed to a radical change in our lives. We were giddy with excitement, not having a clue about what the future held. We went from living in a ten-room Cape Cod by the sea to splitting out time between a cottage on St. John and a tindominium in Wellfleet. What’s a tindominium, you ask? I’ll share more about that tomorrow.