Monday, July 21, 2014

Personal Space

I wish I had better powers of concentration. I'm fascinated by those people (probably mostly under the age of thirty) who read with the evening news droning from the television or music blasting from their headphones.

My train of thought is a stubby little two-car set rather than a full freight express of loaded boxcar after boxcar.  It can be derailed by a housefly at the window or the sudden realization that I forgot to take the chicken out to thaw for dinner.

As a result, I'm grateful for our house, which, while not large, does have a number of thinking spots. I spent yesterday writing in the basement, although admittedly my main motivation was to escape the heat. In the summer time our porch is a good place to read, while in the winter I turn on our fake fireplace and camp out in the living room.

I have friends who are downsizing, moving to smaller homes and a simpler life. I think about the complexity of shedding years of possessions, a daunting thought in its own right. But scarier still is the idea of shedding rooms. I've shared more than one conversation with a downsizer struggling to plan for personal space in a home with four rooms instead of the seven or eight they had to ramble around in before.

After almost a half-century of wedded equilibrium, in which at least one of the partners was employed and absent for a good portion of the day, I wonder if these newly retired couples have thought about the fact that they are now going to be together for an unrelenting twenty-four hours in a much smaller space.

My husband and I are becoming quite a success at retirement. We now have time to travel together, either on short day trips or longer tours. At home, we’re together gardening or just sitting outside enjoying the results. Other times we’re at opposite ends of the house. He’s working on a landscape in one room while I’m two rooms away, writing.

We’ve enjoyed a peaceful forty-five years of marriage by not only delighting in each other's company, but recognizing the importance of leaving each other alone. Also, after so many years together, we inevitably have the same conversation more than once.

The same one crops up when we’re out for a drive and happen to pass a trailer park.

We look out of the car window at the rows of trailers, each home probably consisting of the same square footage as our basement.

One of us will smile and turn to the other, saying with affection,

"If we lived there, I'd kill you."

The other of us will reply,

 "Not if I kill you first."


  1. We're coming up on 41 years together so I understand the importance of time together and time apart (the little nooks you describe). Then when you also want to welcome family visitors it necessitates an abode of a certain size. That said, we've found that as long as the above is figured in where we live, a bit smaller is still fine. We've moved a lot so we don't (can't) have the accumulations of all our years so that helps make smaller possible.

  2. my husband and I have lived and worked together for almost every year we have been together. we often hang out in different rooms. in fact, about the only time we sit in the same room is for breakfast, lunch and in the evenings including dinner. at one point for about 10 years I took up an activity that took me away for four days about four times a year.

  3. When there only were three adults in this house, and two of them married for thirty odd years, everyone had a private space and could be found there except at meals. The addition of children has meant some compromises and carving, but it still works.

  4. I know the feeling of not being able to concentrate when a number of things are happening at the same time. I miss reading while listening to music. retirement can be a challenge for a couple. It looks like you've done well. You haven't killed each other!

  5. Think you have hit the nail on the head with each having alone time. My favorite bumper sticker is
    "Retirement is half the money, twice the husband."

  6. You caused some serious guffaws here with that comment, Patti!


Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear what you think.