Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making The Leap — Elizabeth Garber

All of us in cohousing knew the day would come when we’d start doing what we’ve been talking about for years now, but I had no idea that it was going to start changing this soon! Last weekend, at our last Equity members meeting, we were told it was time to put our houses on the market to make sure we had funds ready for building. We might be breaking ground this fall, we might be building in phases, and perhaps as early as next spring some folks could start moving in. We are getting so close, so much is getting pulled together, it’s almost time for everything to begin. I gulped. But was it time to put my beautiful nest on the market?

I’ve had a vision for the last few years that I’d effortlessly sell my condo apartment in an 1824 house in Belfast and move into cohousing when our houses were ready. Was it time now to put it up for sale? I felt sobered. I know over the years several people had said they loved my place, but would anyone want to buy it now? What if I couldn’t sell it in time for building? But then what would I do if I did sell it? I walked around the colorful rooms I love and went to sleep wondering, "How will I do this transition?" The next afternoon when I got home from our cohousing Open House, there was a message on my phone saying that my neighbor wanted to talk to me about real estate. I invited her over, and the conversation ended up with her saying she wanted to buy my apartment. I answered with a curiously calm certainty. “OK. We can do this.”

In that moment, everything changed in how I looked at my life and belongings. After she left I walked around my house, looking at everything with new eyes. I saw the table piled with books and notebooks, my rugs, and book shelves filled with poetry and art books. I looked through the lens of what do I love and what is essential that will fit in my future, cozy, snug, sustainable and minimal 500 square foot one bedroom triplex that will look like a little row of English garden houses. I looked at the peach couch, oak roll top desk, wicker chair. I felt a wave of ease and clarity, I can let go. I started making a list of what I want to sell. I decided for my birthday this fall I’ll have a give away party for my friends to choose their favorite treasures.

But what about the art work I’ve gathered for years? Paintings, etchings, sculpture, drawings? All with their own special meanings, some gifts, some bought over time or traded for? I walked up to each one, seeing the black and white photograph, the still life painting with my new eyes. Again and again, a quiet voice said, I can let go of this. I can pass this on to someone else to enjoy. Some will go to decorate the Common House, some to give as gifts, some for my house. And by the end of the evening, I’d taken fifteen pieces off the wall and decided to offer them for sale at our new Cohousing Gallery to raise money for our future Common house. (At the Beaver Street office in downtown Belfast on Friday nights from 5-7 pm.)

The life I’ve been getting ready for has already begun. My life's priorities are already changing to discover a different ways for living in community. This is a new way for us to express generosity and to let go of attachments. We are stepping into unknown territory to discover another way to live. It’s time to start packing!

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