If there was ever an admission that we are “over the hill”, this has to be it. The last 30 years of our married life, the key word has been “expansion” – our family size increased from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (the last one came with four legs), our living spaces went from a 1000 sq ft apartment to 3500 sq ft house to 5500 sq ft house. Our lot sizes went from 0 (apartment) to 1/6 of an acre to 5 acres.
And now, we are staring down the day in less than 10 months when Nikita will leave for college and we will officially enter the “empty nester” zone. Sharmila and I have been thinking hard and long on how we should re-prioritize our lives once it is just the two of us. You know – with no early morning repeated alarm clocks ringing to wake every one of us up but the owner of the alarm clock OR last minute realization that something has to be bought from the store in the next few minutes OR no staying up late by her bed so she can finish up preparing for her test next day…
We realize that it is going to be hard not to have any of the children around. But we also realize that we may not have each other around for too long either. Both of us are way beyond the average life expectancy of somebody born in India in our respective birth years.
We think we want to minimize on maintenance to save time. We also want to be able to travel at the drop of a hat. And finally, we want to just walk to coffee shops, restaurants and bars so as to make as many friends as we can since our two best friends won’t be around us.
With that in mind – and mind you, this makes no financial sense – at the peak of house prices, we have bought ourselves a small house in Alpharetta downtown. It is less than half the size of our current house and we go straight from 5 acres to enough space for the dog to get his job done in the morning. Even that might be tight for him!!
Contraction – in business or life – is not an easy thing. We are going to give ourselves some time to make the move. There is a lot of stuff that we have to get rid of. It will be hard. But I am hoping that will bring the two of us closer since it will force us to decide what is important to us and what is not. Ideally, we would want to give up all the stuff like furniture etc and start it all over again.
Just like an expectant mother’s final contractions are incredibly painful and yet gives rise to the most beautiful thing – called a new life – so too, I expect our downsizing to be painful but hopefully a new life will emerge for both of us.
This picture was taken just as we had our final walkthru before closing. Our youngest friends – Mrinalda and Seemitadi – were there to witness our baby steps to the transition.
Three years back, on this day, in the middle of a company acquisition in Chicago, I got the news that my father in law had transitioned. Rushed back to Atlanta immediately to pack off Sharmila on the first flight to India.
The first message that hit my inbox today was from my mother in law. It was a picture she sent on Whatsapp. She had decorated his picture with flowers and offered all the Bengali sweets (my father in law was not too much into sweets – but you cannot worship anything in Bengali without sweets) and his favorite “cha-biskoot” (tea and crackers).
The biggest change in these three years? My mother in law has mastered modern technology!! She is the same person that used to be deathly afraid of holding an iPad because it used to go “edik odik” (topsy turvy) if she moved!!
Miss the big guy though…
Well, first of all, I have no idea what a Pop Up art show is. But I heard they have free mimosas. Also that Sharmila had a few paintings on display. It was hot enough that the mimosa sounded good. Met Sharmila’s artist friends and some of her customers. I still do not understand paintings… but, I know that orange juice tastes funny in the morning without the champagne in it!!
“You will not know me sir…”, I started my conversation with the gentleman who had just stepped out of his house when I rang the bell. If I could get a penny every time I have started my conversation with a stranger with that familiar refrain of “You will not know me…”, I would be a rich person today. Well, maybe not as poor, at least.
“My name is Rajib Roy…” I continued.
“Oh! I know you.”
That floored me. “You do? How?” I stammered. I started looking him up a little more purposefully. Perhaps we had worked together in the past?
“Oh! We still get your mail,” he casually answered.
“Ah! so you know of me, then!! Indeed we lived in this house for nine years. This was our first house – for my wife and me. Both my daughters were born in this house. We have a lot of memories here.”
“Why don’t you come in?”
“No. I am between meetings in Coppell and Mansfield. I thought I will just swing by to see the house from outside.”
We stood there and talked about his family – his five kids and how two of his young daughters have converted my library cum music room into their bedroom. And the neighbors we used to have then. After a few minutes, I told him that I needed to go.
“Would you mind if I took a picture of the house from the front?”
“Sure thing. If you don’t want to come in, you can go to the backyard from the side gate to take pictures.”
And with that I got the two shots in this picture of the first house Sharmila and I had bought and moved in to. That was 1998. Sharmila went into labor literally the day we had moved our stuff. Natasha, Sharmila and I – we all moved in together a couple of days later. I still remember opening up boxes after boxes looking for a spoon to make coffee the day after we all came back from the hospital!!
The backyard – specially the pool and the water behind brought back rich memories of the two girls. Pool was their favorite spot. Their friends used to come over and have pool parties fairly regularly. (In our friends’ circle and in the neighborhood, we were among the first ones to have a pool those days).
After taking in the view for a few seconds, I had a “Bye Bye Pool” moment like my father in law as I withdrew!
I am fortunate that work lets me still come back to Dallas and re-live some of the memories of those beautiful days long gone!!