This article was originally published on Better After 50.
I love trying on people's stories of where to live next. This is a topic that my husband and I try on weekly. I'm not exaggerating. This week we left our summer home and came back to the suburbs -- the family house I have lived in for 30 years.
First day back, dog on leash, my pup and I joined the parade of strollers and young moms walking their kids to school. My entire street has turned over.
When we moved in Mrs. Pincus, a widow, lived next store. She was 80-something years old and a Holocaust survivor. Winters, we helped her shovel her walk and called the ambulance when she slipped one day. When Mrs. Pincus died, I told my husband I am not going to be the Mrs Pincus of this street.
I am now the oldest person on my street. I fear I have become Mrs. Pincus. But I'm not that old -- YET -- so there's still time!
September puts me in lockstep with a fresh notebook, sharpened pencils and a forward-looking perspective. But like many first day of school nightmares -- I can't find my homeroom. I'm stuck in last year's classroom but I swear I got promoted. So how come I'm still at this desk?
Last night I sat next to a retired 60-year-old guy at a wedding who told me how he sold his family home in our neighborhood, moved into a nearby condo with his wife, and lives in Florida in a golf community for six months out of the year. I tried on his story and it didn't fit - it felt like a turtleneck in a hot room.
My girlfriend sold her family home and she and her husband are moving into a 2-bedroom NYC apartment and going to Vermont on the weekends. Great idea since her husband works in the city. While it's a good story for them -- I can't walk in those shoes.
My Boston friend sold her family house and bought a studio in a high rise nearby and she says it feels so cool -- like a hotel. While that story seems plausible to me it's neither a sneaker nor a shoe.
Over and over I try on other people's next move stories examining them like I'm browsing the shoe department at Barney's knowing I probably won't buy a thing because they are either too expensive, too out there, or just plain uncomfortable.
So back home I sit on our favorite living room couch with my husband and cozily watch the women's finals of the US Open. At that moment, we are tucked in and content -- I look around the living room and wonder -- why isn't this enough? And I think -- maybe this is just a September problem. Will I still feel this way in November?
So I challenge myself to be patient (my weakest character trait), and applaud Flavia Pennetta who has just won the US Open.
I hear her say.... "This is my last US Open... I'm retiring."
Take a look.
Her words stop me in my tracks. I applaud her timing -- her ability to know when to exit -- to leave at the top her game. And I observe her, acknowledging that this chapter is complete for her. According to Vanity Fair, "She ultimately decided to put down her racket because she was "losing her competitive fire," and without it, "it would not be worthwhile to continue playing."
And -- I know there is a good lesson in this. That other people's next chapter stories don't work for me.
When it's time -- our next move will become clear -- I'll know when to exit from this home and where to go next. But in the meantime -- I still love hearing about how those around me are "playing out theirs."
What's your next move?