Conscious Aging Part V: Klainer West

Matt and Amy moved here first, and “Pacific Northwest” sounded like the other side of the world to me, an east-coaster from birth. I came to visit and liked the city, but it felt very far away. That said, my life in Rochester had begun to change. Longtime members of my social circle moved to get out of the harsh winters. Neither Sara nor Matt and Amy were getting home very much. Rochester isn’t easy to reach by air — you have to arrive via another, bigger airport like Chicago or Cleveland or New York.  I was still living in the home where Jerry and I raised our family and had our married life. That was comforting initially, but by 2010 the house began to seem too big, too empty for me alone. I decided to downsize to an apartment or condo in a more urban setting, and the pickings in Rochester were slim in terms of a chance for a vibrant life. While there were wonderful renovated loft spaces in downtown Rochester, there wasn’t much else: no coffee shop, no grocery store or movie theater, no night life, no retail, no drug store.  Seattle seemed to offer much more, and if I was going to make the change in living space, it began to seem realistic to give more radical change a shot and move to Seattle.

Sara graduated from business school in 2009, and initially took a job with Dell in Austin. The year or so after I moved to Seattle in 2010, she moved here too. The grandkids arrived shortly after, and Klainer West was formed.

Being around immediate family is rare these days, and I know how lucky I am. Matt can run over on a Saturday morning and help me with my newly assembled grill. I can swing by day care for a grandchild suspected of having pinkeye, and run the kid to the pediatrician. Sara can collect my mail when I’m away, and I can water her plants. Sara and Ben and I can meet up for Saturday breakfast, and I can drop by Matt and Amy’s for a swim in the pool when the temperatures hit the mid-80’s. Everybody can come over for grilled hot dogs at my place, last minute invite no problem. In short, we can be part of each other’s lives on a casual basis, very different from the planned, 10 day parental visit.

That said, our togetherness works because we have our individual lives, and we respect each other’s boundaries. I don’t expect my adult kids to entertain me. They don’t expect me to be an automatic child care resource or house sitter. If there’s an invite extended that isn’t especially convenient or interesting, anyone gets to say “no” without extra baggage attached. All things considered, and given our level of closeness, I think we all get on remarkably well.

tomorrow: Anticipating the next ten years.

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