Before we moved from North Muskegon in 2015, John and I discussed what features we wanted in our next home. For 21 years we lived in a large 2 story house on a lake (which didn’t interest us much anymore). We wanted something smaller on one level. I was ready for a condo but Hubs still enjoyed yard work and was not willing to give that up. Sigh. But beyond living fairly close to our 3 kids our list of ‘must haves’ wasn’t extensive.
Raising three kids during the first 30 plus years determined what we required in house size, location and school district that benefitted the needs of our three kids (we didn’t always make the right decision here either-but we tried) so the wants and needs for the 2 of us wasn’t something we’d ever experienced before. Hubs envisioned a few acres outside of town which included a pole barn where he could refurbish an old car or truck. That scenario didn’t appeal to me at all. He’s the social butterfly and enjoys gabbing with all the neighbors. Me, not so much. I’m not antisocial but dealing with a profound hearing loss for the last 25 years has inhibited friendships and conversations.
I thought we were destined to live within the city limits in an older neighborhood but that wasn’t the case. When the realtor showed us the 4th or 5th house on that hot August day I had no idea where we were exactly (and we had lived in this city for 7 years 22 years ago). A large, well established neighborhood with long streets, smaller homes and lots. Houses built during the 1960’s, mostly bi-level or ranch style.
The house had been repossessed and needed updating but I liked the layout, yard and garage. The front door was purple and the storm door was hanging on by one screw. It had blown open so many times there were a couple shards of glass clinging to the frame but the rest covered the ground. Yikes. The neighborhood looked quiet and middle class-like us.
With some elbow grease, gallons of fresh paint, new flooring, appliances we moved right before Halloween and it’s been our cozy home (cozy-polite term for a tad too small, yet still sufficient) for the last 7-1/2 years. New landscaping, green-weed-less-yard (he’s anal about the yard and shrubs) added another garage, new central air, water heater-ok everything but the furnace. And since I made the mistake of mentioning it, that too has probably been jinxed now.
The neighborhood is exactly what we thought since first time we drove through it. Quiet. But we’ve definitely noticed a pattern in the transience of the folks who move in and out. I’m talking about a dozen homes closest to us, 6 on our side of the street and six across from us. Of those 12 houses 2 of the owners have been here longer than our less than 8 years. That just blows me away! A couple of the homes have changed hands more than once.
I don’t think more than a couple owners are in the age group between 45-60. If you move on our street there’s a high probability that you’re either retired or just starting out. Rather unlikely you’re 42 with 3 kids. This is a neighborhood of starters and enders (you guessed it, we’re in the enders category).
This rang painfully/joyfully true a couple of months ago. Jessica, our neighbor to the east told us last fall she was expecting a baby in late March. Yay! Our neighbors, Jeff and Cindy across the street (who moved here when they were newlyweds in the mid 70’s raising 3 kids in their house) told us 18 months ago that Jeff had early onset dementia (they’re younger than us by a few years).
This winter Jeff started slipping. Couldn’t remember his way home when he walked the dog and had trouble coming up with words when carrying on a conversation. He loved John’s 1962 Studebaker pickup and enjoyed going for a ride, so he and Hubs went out for breakfast and drove around a bit every couple weeks. Suddenly Jeff didn’t want to go eat out anymore, he couldn’t read the menu and didn’t have an appetite.
As we headed home after a short trip to Mississippi, (thanks Pat & Jeff) trying to beat the much publicized ‘ice storm’ in late February, Cindy texted that Jeff hadn’t eaten in several days, was sleeping most of the time and Hospice had been called. The day after we got home, the storm hit with a vengeance, knocking out the power for 48-72 hours in our neighborhood. Jessica and Cody were heading to the hospital to deliver their baby 3 weeks early and Jeff & Cindy’s family were sitting in utter darkness, literally and figuratively as Jeff’s life was ending. (Later we learned had Consumer’s Power been aware of Jeff’s impending death they would have provided their home with a generator).
Within a couple days we lost a good friend across the street and gained a tiny baby boy next door. The sad and happy circle of life…