De-Burbanizing (aka Farewell to Lawns)
WARNING: This is one of those self-indulgent blog posts that has very little to do with business (unless you’re a working mother or woman Boomer, in which case you might find it inspirational). If you’re really busy at work and are looking for tips on how to make money, network, develop an app, track trends, or hire staff, or you are a LinkedIn content purist, please click away!
In less than a week, I will no longer be a suburban homeowner.
It feels strange, and yet really right. I’m moving on to a new phase — professionally and personally. Mine is the first generation of women who will have lived many many lives (and will, most likely, live to at least 80). We get lots of chances for do-overs and makeovers. I have been:
- A salesgirl at Macy’s
- A Congressional intern (back when that was respectable)
- An assistant editor/proofreader (aka grunt)
- A marketing manager for nursing textbooks and editor/marketer/publicist for consumer health books
- A banker (Ugh! Actually, I was a marketing professional at a bank…big difference)
- A financial services marketer (sort of like a banker, but I worked with cooler people)
- A trade showgirl (actually, the CMO of the world’s biggest largest trade show company. But that first title sounds sexier and more interesting)
- An entrepreneur, published writer, and speaker
I lived in three apartments and two houses. They kept getting bigger and filled with more “stuff”. That’s just what happens. (I finally disposed of about 90% of my belongings over the course of six weeks!)
Even most important, I’m the mother of two incredible daughters and the grandmother of the cutest and smartest baby who ever lived. The “job” of motherhood never ends. But it took up a chunk of my life for 21+ years.
During my career-building years, I juggled a commute, big jobs, big staffs (which I was often asked to reduce into smaller staffs during corporate blood-lettings), pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, nanny hiring/management/firing, school plays, sports activities, fundraisers, Girl Scouts (Yup…I was even a troop leader), back-to-school nights, summer camp prep, proms, college visits and applications, home building and furnishing and maintenance, vacation planning, etc., etc., etc.
I’m not complaining by the way — just reminiscing. Selling a house will do that to you.
When my kids left home, I made the best of suburban life. I even became the President of our local Chamber of Commerce for a bit. I met some great people, but I will not be pursuing a career in local politics any time soon. (However, if Hillary called me, I’d be back in DC in an instant.)
Here I am, living in the city, where I rented my first urban apartment in 1978. It was bigger than the one I’m in now, and it cost 10% of my current rent. I didn’t have a doorman back then…just roaches and mice and the occasional homeless person in the hall. And I have many happy memories of that era — long before lawn sprinklers and carpools and trips to Target.
Will I miss the burbs? Honestly, no. It was right for the time. Now it’s a different time. I like the fact that my biggest real estate management responsibilities are refilling the paper towel dispenser and throwing away a Seamless bag now and then. I love walking to work and being able to get a manicure at 10pm.
What will I miss?
- The noises of a suburban gang of giggling girls in my house, watching TV on a laptop or playing games
- My gigantic kitchen, where my daughters and I cooked and baked for family and friends
- The ambulance- and siren-free peace of a Saturday morning, followed by a trip to the farmer’s market
- Sprawling and wandering when I get bored. (Sprawling in a 400 square foot space is tough, but not impossible.)
But one of the things I realized as I went through this process is that houses and their furnishings will come and go…kids will graduate, grow up, and move out and on…jobs and bosses will change…relationships will end and begin.
I love speaking to 20-something interns and millennials whose lives are just starting. (One of my favorite writers is our intern Bridget, a contributor to Odyssey. I also read a ton of blogs authored by young women writers.) In many ways they are smarter and more balanced than my generation. They are cynical in some ways and yet many believe that anything is possible and they are not clinging to a “straight path” in business and life. I have a lot to learn from them.
The sale of a house is called a “closing” but I’m viewing it as an “opening.” Of course, I cried and mourned more than a little. I cherish my memories (and I kept three giant bins of memorabilia…so I’m really not that much of a minimalist quite yet).
I’ve lived in many places and worn many hats and, in many respects, my life feels as if is just starting again — just with a hell of a lot more insight and calm and perspective.
So, if you’re going through a mega life change or move, feel free to comment on this blog and share your own story. I sense that there are a lot of us out there…and I could always use some wing women on this exciting new ride.
As I’m learning, home is ultimately where the head and heart (and sneakers and smartphone) are.