I have been absent from my posts with good reason, we have moved! First piece of advice, no old people are allowed to move. Before I explain the ins and outs of this particular move, I want to share with all of you a touching story.
We were living in a building on the Westside of Los Angeles being converted to Condos. We were aware of the conversion when we moved in five years ago, taking the apartment before buying a new house, making sure the market was not going to fall any further, it was a lovely, large unit and the neighbors all seemed quite nice We would speak at the mailboxes or in the elevator, but I was busy and never really got to know anyone well.
Then last April, we all got notice of the owners intent to begin the conversion process. Everyone had six months to move, however being over sixty-five, entitled you to an extra six months. Since my husband and I were at odds about where to go, we took the extra time. As the time passed all the younger people jumped ship leaving the building to a very exclusive group of us, and we all grew closer, complaining about workmen, sharing packing stories and leads on available real estate in the neighborhood and presenting a united front to the building’s owner when necessary.
It soon became a mini version of Ten Little Indians, “and then there were none”. No one wanted to be the last to leave the building. By February there were six units still occupied. My husband and I of course. June, a very beautiful and regal lady of about ninety-five, who had probably been a model at one time, never married, and had enjoyed a career in the fashion industry. She had been in the building from day one, I believe for fifty years. Next in line were my neighbors across the pool, Louis and Judith, Lou, a New Yorker, had come to California in the early sixties as an up and coming young engineer and shortly there after moved into a one bedroom apartment where he lived quite happily as a bachelor until he met Judith who had recently arrived with her family from Morocco. They married and moved into a two bedroom unit when expecting their daughter.
Next came Carole, she was a widow living on the second floor, a fifteen years resident, whose husband had died, at fifty something, suddenly within the first six months of living there. They had moved in much like us for what was to be a few years until they found a house or condo to buy. The managers, another interesting duo, he a native of Holland, a retired cameraman for the movies and his “Very, VERY Nervous” wife Madelyn a former Miss Morocco. The remaining unit a single guy, early sixties. He hated the owner and was a collector of antiques, had brought way too much stuff with him from his home when moving in seven years ago following his divorce. He was using a little known loophole in the rental code to avoid having to move out before the year was up. I hope I have set the stage well, were I a better writer this cast of characters could carry a play.
So, for the last six months we all became a small, albeit dysfunctional, family. No one really wanted to leave, each for our own reasons. I loved the neighborhood and certainly did not want to leave Los Angeles and my husband was hell-bent on moving to the desert. I guess for various reasons all of us were expecting a reprieve and mass insanity took hold.
No one wanted to be the last person out, but no one wanted to miss the end of the story. First to go was our neighbor with far too much furniture, which turned out to be a common thread, he left over a series of days. Having to make many more trips than he or his movers anticipated, giving us all a glimpse of what was to come.
Next was the charming, elderly third floor June, who we’d been told was praying to die before she had to move. She was not granted her wish and was rushed to the hospital one night and then on to assisted living. Her housekeeper had to move her things out ASAP. I was beginning to develop a twinge of empathy at this point, projecting twenty-five years into the future, and imagining what my life would be like without my husband and children to ease the stress of moving.
Now we all began to speak about actually leaving and it was decided that all these moves would have to be coördinated so no two tenants were moving on the same day. Suddenly it all became real, and with thirty days to go we made decisions. I gave up and agreed to be banished to Palm Desert, more about this in later blogs. The managers went on to another building in Brentwood. Judith and Lou to an inherited home they were renovating in The Valley, a move they were ambivalent about after fifty plus years on the Westside. Carole to a building a block away, she valued location above space and was attempting to place six rooms of possessions into four smaller rooms, I still don’t know if she has succeeded, having cut her leg on a box in her new packed quarters, she was taken to the hospital with Cellulitis.
It wasn’t until the last few nights that I began to stop feeling sorry for myself and to put myself in the shoes of my fellow exiles. An elderly woman all alone, basically bed ridden and leaving my home of fifty plus years, where all my memories lived, can’t fathom the pain.
To be widow where an adored husband had died suddenly one night after getting into bed. This would be the last place they had lived together, how badly would I feel if I had to leave the last place we had ever lived together, heart-broken.
And right across the pool, Judith had moved in as a bride, having never been able to convince her dyed in the wool New Yorker husband that California was a house “place” not an apartment “place” like New York, she had brought up her daughter in this building. Watched her go to college and law school and become a wife and a Mother all from this one apartment. How hard for she and Lou this last night in what has been their only home together for over thirty-five years.
For one of the few times in my life I was able to feel exactly what others must feel and somehow it made me feel more at peace with my loss. I will go on to write more about this move, if you have followed my blog you may know that I have moved many, many times in my life. With my family of origin, five high schools in four years. My first husband a corporate executive, nine times in ten years and now with husband number two, a dentist who must have some long hidden gypsy gene. This has for some reason become the most difficult ever and I shall look at the reasons for that ad nauseam in the coming weeks and months, hopefully with insight and a lot of humor, but for now I hope this helps all of you with some of your issues and pending changes to see life from other perspectives.
coming soon: what my move and Martha Stewart have in common