And Now It’s Time to Leave You

imagesI want everyone to know how special it has been to write about and advocate for people “of a certain” age co-housing. I’ve loved the opportunity to encourage others to do what I’ve done these last 4 or so years.

I had 3 1/2 years with my Flatmate, Dina in NYC. We loved every moment of sharing our existence — cooking together, throwing dinner parties, supporting each other during illnesses, knowing each other’s families. It was a delight.

I had the past seven months with another housemate in Austin, TX. We have been friends for many years and she was gracious to allow me to share her house while re-settling into Austin.

Now, however, it’s time for me to leave you. I’ll be moving into my very own apartment in about three weeks. Since I’m now close to my son and his girlfriend, and my best friends of many years, I’m ready to take on having my own space. I can rely on others for things I might need. And, I’ll have all of my “stuff” spread out in an entire apartment. I’ll “do it my way.”

Who knows. Someday I might want to share again.

I wish well to all who have been inspired by the writing we’ve done and the experiences we’ve shared — here, on facebook, on television, etc.

It’s been a blast. This site will be going down soon. If you ever want to contact me, go to my Ann Fry facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ann.fry.94?

With much gratitude and love,

Ann

 

 

Twas the Night Before Christmas …..

So here it is Christmas Eve. I’m in Austin, Tx and the temperature is in the high 70’s. It sure doesn’t feel like Christmas. The stores are jammed full, the traffic is heavy and people are definitely in motion to create an elaborate holiday for their families.

You know, I’ve been there, done that. My “baby” is 37 and he has no babies. So, Christmas is pretty simple. My son, his girlfriend and me. We’ll share some nice food, pass out some gifts and enjoy our day…. but that’s tomorrow.

Tonight, I’ll be hanging out with my flatmate, Lee, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, with my hankie in my hand, as though I’ve never seen it before. We might drink some wine, eat a nice meal and a few treats and celebrate our first Christmas Eve as co-housing mates. The nice thing about that …. someone to spend a special time with.

The reality is … it’s up to each of us to create the sort of holiday we want, can afford, can enjoy. No one has to go out on a limb to create more than they can handle. After all, it’s about love, sharing, giving, and for those that are religious, it’s about honoring beliefs.

So, from this Co-Housing person (who is about to turn 70 in a week) — a lovely, peaceful, loving and merry Christmas. Enjoy!

So, How Long Does It Really Take To Start Over?!

IMG_1941 IMG_1942Continuing the theme of starting over/ reinventing, It’s been 3 months and one day since I returned to Austin from NYC. I thought I’d share a bit of awareness I’ve gained.

First, it takes as long as it takes. How long is that? Who knows.

I suppose I thought that because I was moving back to a place I’d lived, and that I had friends and colleagues here, that it would be a short snap of the fingers and I’d feel that sense of belonging right away. Not true. My son is here, with his girlfriend. My best, long-time friends are here, but all of them have their own lives and habits and jobs. There’s not a lot of openings for me. My colleagues are the same although many have moved on to other places as well.

Second, it takes oodles of patience.

In NYC, everything was fast-paced. We jumped on subways to get places quickly. We walked fast. It was a rush, rush sort of place. I actually loved that pace (except for buses and taxis that went slow.) In Austin, it’s get in your car and then get stuck in traffic forever, or so it seems. I’m learning to be patient while my car is stuck on the highway

More importantly, as I navigate my next career steps, I’m definitely developing patience. I’m meeting with old friends and colleagues, but on their time schedules. I want to see them NOW. But once again, they have their lives.

Third,  the social situation is different here.

In NY, all I had to do was walk out my door, down the street, hop on the subway and I could be almost anyplace in 15 minutes. so, I could call friends at the last minute and meet at a cafe for a glass of wine. NY is also a place where it’s easy (or at least not uncomfortable) to dine alone.

In Austin, it appears that people are always with others and it feels oddly uncomfortable to go anyplace alone, except maybe a coffee shop. Also, Austin is very large and spread out. The only way to get around is in your car and it takes a long time. The result is: I spend more time alone than before.

On the other hand, there’s the upside:

  1. I sleep like a log — no noisy sirens or people out on the streets.
  2. Everything in my neighborhood is green — grass, trees, plants. The only concrete is the sidewalk.
  3. I must admit, people are friendlier. Lots of “thanks for coming in” or “please come back”
  4. It’s really casual — boots and jeans are commonplace, even at professional meetings.
  5. It’s warmer (so far)
  6. I’m loving the new adventure of it all.

So why do I share all this with you? Well, ReInventing or Starting Over is a choice to be made, but with consideration. It’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve reinvented many times in my life, but these past two times — moving to NYC at age 60, and back to Austin at 69 — were/ are particularly challenging. However, I wouldn’t change that for the world. I might even have more “starting overs” hanging out in my brain someplace. It keeps me young and vital and excited.

As a Co-Houser … (I think I made that term up), it’s definitely nice to have another person around to ease some of the discomfort of all this. We share meals, conversation and do some fun things together as well. Then, we can retreat to our separate parts of the house to have alone time, watch what we want on TV or read or whatever. It’s an enriching experience. It helps in the times of concern, challenge, loneliness AND it also is an adventure and a co-creation of what’s possible.

The Sadness of Separation – The Excitement of New Possibilities

Many of you know that my previous situation was sharing a beautiful apartment in Harlem, in Manhattan, in NYC. I loved it. My roommate and I got along glorious well. However, the expense of NY and my missing of my son in Austin took me away. For Dina and I the separation was painful. It was like losing a family member.

Once I left, we spoke regularly by phone and emailed.

It is all, however, settling down at this point.

Dina has found a new apartment and is moving this week.

I’m settled into a lovely room inside a lovely house in the middle of Austin with an old friend and her dog. It’s so quiet here that I sleep like a baby. (If you know NY … it’s noisy even at night – ambulances, etc.)

I’ve been back in Austin for 5 weeks now. I’ve got my car, am reconnecting with old friends and colleagues. I’m seeing this as a new beginning in many ways and wondering what I’ll “toss away” and what “I’ll keep” – in terms of my work and other aspects of my life. Perhaps I’ll do something entirely different.

The cool thing is that it’s like an artist having an “empty canvas.” I can create from scratch. I’ll keep working in some of my professional ways, but I want to add a more spiritual side, a more benevolent/ volunteer side. It’s time to be giving back and be even more meaningful now. I bet some of you can relate to that as well.

Truthfully, you don’t have to move elsewhere or even apartment/house share to start over. That being said, however, it’s great to have a “fellow-journeyperson” with you.

My new flatmate and I are hosting a meeting tonight at our home to discuss the development of a “Co-Housing” Development. For me, that’s my way of staying on the front lines of this endeavor.

Til next time …..

AnnIMG_1916 IMG_1921

P.S. There are deer in my neighborhood. And, the other picture shows the “quirkiness” of Austin .. lots of meal trucks. The motto of Austin is:  “Keep Austin weird.” It’s truly a cool place.

Change Is Afoot with the Flatmates!

Ann here. If you’ve been keeping up with the Flatmate posts (although, I know they’ve been infrequent), you know that “change is afoot.” Let me catch you up.

Dina and I have split up. No, not because we got angry, or tired of one another, but because two things happened. First, our apartment (which we rented) was sold from under us. So, second, I decided to leave NYC and move back to Austin, TX to be closer to my son. Dina is apartment hunting still in NYC. We talk regularly and miss each other terribly.

I am now settling into a new co-housing arrangement in Austin with an old friend. I’m in my room, but not unpacked. My new flatmate is Lee. I’m sharing her beautiful house. So, we will now be changing our byline to: Co-housing adventures and fun in Austin, TX.

Lee may or may not join in and write, but mostly it will be me. If it’s interesting to you, let me know. So many of you keep in touch and I’d like to keep this going. If this change has pushed you away, I understand.

Actually, in all fairness, Lee and I will be joining with other seniors looking for opportunities to seek funding and develop a “co-housing”community. You know I totally believe in the whole home/apartment sharing momentum … so stay tuned.

For now, that’s my update. It’s hot in Austin – was 102 yesterday, but my new car has great air conditioning. I’m adjusting to my new lifestyle here, missing all the walking and public transportation options and fun of NY. I’m a bit daunted about making or renewing friends here, finding new work options. However, being resourceful and friendly, I think it will all work out. I already have some playdates on my calendar. My biggest fear – gaining weight without all the walking :)

So, as I said, “stay tuned.”

Time…and Again

It’s time for Ann to leave the apartment. She’s decided to spend her last three weeks in NYC at the home of a friend, and by the end of August she’ll be back in Austin.

Over these few months, I’ve been watching her pare down her property, selling her bed, donating her heavy winter clothes and tossing old prints in frames too heavy to make the “art” box for shipping. I’ve been listening to whatever she’s wanted to share about this experience. I have to say, I’ve been pretty stoic about it all.

To say we’ve loved our run as Senior Flatmates would not be putting too fine a point on it, and I know Ann would agree with the sentiment. We’ve learned a lot about putting two strangers—with very different looks and lifestyles—together to figure out harmony and connection in a shared space. We’ve done a good job, and now I am going to step back and hand over our blog to Ann as she anticipates beginning a new “Flatmates” relationship in Texas.

This is my last official blog as a Senior Flatmate. Sometime in the near future, you—and I—will look forward to reading about Ann’s new adventure, as well as, perhaps, getting the perspective from her new “mate”. I’m sure you will continue to enjoy and connect with their experiences, and I’m also sure that you, as I, wish them both success and fun.

As I wish you all. Thanks for listening!

Dina
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We’ve Been Through a Lot Together

Dina and IWhen I moved into the apartment with Dina in December 2011, little did I know how important this relationship would become to both of us. In reflecting back, we’ve been through so much together. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten through some of mine without Dina’s friendship, and I’ll bet she would say the same thing.

For me:  I had another couple of cancer scares; my son had Cancer (he’s fine now); I stopped some medication and went into full-blown anxiety reactions (not fun to be around). For Dina: She had a scary illness (she’s fine); her Dad’s illness and death; the ongoing support and care of her 93-year old Mother. And, we went through 4 Winters together. For me, that’s a big deal. I don’t love Winter and complain and stay in a great deal. Dina was patient with me.

Throughout it all, we kept a sense of humor, constant contact and check-ins with each other. We’ve really been there. Of course, a few glasses of wine helped, too.

In reflecting, I can honestly say that, even though I was married for 25 years and felt emotionally supported by my husband, the personal touch of one woman’s understanding of another is quite something to be treasured.

Now, as we start our separation from each other, there’s much to reflect upon.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to be with a calm, smart, caring woman who helped me with difficult times. Her level of love and support is always palpable. I’m pretty sure she would say the same.

In many ways we are very different people. We’re both neat and orderly, but she’s more disciplined and concentrative. I’m more scattered and sometimes watch tv or distract myself with things. We’ve respected our differences.

We still have about 2 more weeks of living together. It’s bittersweet. I get sad, even though a huge part of me is ready for my move and next adventure.

Stay tuned … more to report soon.

Ann

Change is Afoot.

As Dina and I continued to look for a new place to share, it became clear pretty quickly we weren’t going to find it in a neighborhood we liked or at a price we could afford. So, we decided it was time to look separately.

For now, we are still in our apartment. In August, it all changes. Dina will have found a new place in NYC, and I will be returning to Austin, TX, to be closer to my son and my very long-term friends.

We have had 3 ½ years of delightful apartment sharing, friendship, laughs, love, trauma … and we’ve loved it. Our friendship is deep and no doubt will last forever. (We’re already planning when I’ll come to NY and visit and Dina is already planning to come to Austin for my 70th birthday on Jan. 1st.)

We’ve learned a great deal from our sharing of space. We’ve been patient with each other and there to help each other. That continues: Dina is offering help to me as I pack boxes of stuff to mail to Austin. I, in turn, will help her look for apartments and pack things up for her move.

Good News! I will be starting a new chapter with another Flatmate in Austin. I’ll be sharing a space in my friend Lee’s home. It’s a beautiful house, with a yard, a dog and I get my own bedroom and bathroom. It’s kind of her to let me land there for as long as I want. Perhaps it will be for a few months, perhaps longer. We’ll see what happens. We will then be the Senior Flatmates, and I’ll continue to blog.
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Keep the faith: There are live-in situations all around. If you’re looking for one, go after it. Here’s a resource for you:  http://www.roommates4boomers.com/  I used them to look around for a roommate before my friend Lee stepped up.

(The photo is from a trip that Dina took to Austin with me in Jan. of 2014. We are with my son, his girlfriend and friends.)

All good things…

Three days after we signed the new lease, the landlord emailed to say he is selling his apartment. What do we do now?

Of course, we hit the pavement. Harlem, Washington Heights; stay out of the upper west side when you’re looking for two bedrooms with two bathrooms. Ever optimistic, we checked everywhere, called in brokers from all the neighborhoods we might want to live in.

We saw some great spaces, but none that was perfect: one bathroom and two bedrooms side by side. Was our privacy going out the windows?

We don’t know yet how this will end, and we’re still here, not a stick of furniture out of place. I’ve been culling my books–my first response to an upcoming move. Ann’s been worrying, wondering if, maybe, the universe is telling her it’s time to return to Austin, Texas, to her son who, with his girlfriend, is building a house.

What will become of the Flatmates in this new adventure?

Keep in touch.

 

Three days after we signed our new lease, the landlord emailed to say he is selling his apartment. What do we do now?

Of course, we hit the pavement. Harlem, Washington Heights; stay out of the upper west side when you’re looking for a two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms. Ever optimistic, we checked everywhere, called in brokers from all the neighborhoods we might want to live in.

We saw some great spaces, but none that was perfect: one bathroom and two bedrooms side by side. Was our privacy going out the windows?

We don’t know yet how this will end, and we’re still here, not a stick of furniture out of place. I’ve been culling my books—my first response to an upcoming move. Ann’s been worrying, wondering if, maybe, the universe is telling her it’s time to return to Austin, Texas, to her son who, with his girlfriend, is building a house.

What will become of the Flatmates in this new adventure?

Keep in touch.

Dina