Place. Home. Location. Are these synonymous? As I give more thinking weight to where I’ll live once I’ve completed the traditional job cycle, retire, and proceed down the path labeled retirement (not in the stereotypical sense, but shift from being controlled to controlling what I do), I’m pondering all that it means to choose (versus by default) where to live.

Place, in this wide sense, is both the physical structure defining one’s domicile, and the civilized structure where it’s located. Call it town, village, city, woods, or whatever, where ones home physically sits takes on more significance when one realizes this could be it: this could be the last home to live in before it’s time for senile, bed-pan days.

My parents controlled their place pretty far into their human spans, with my father passing while they lived in their choice, and my mother a blessed short time in assisted living (more like an apartment than nursing home). That is, for many, the optimal path: control the where throughout the when and rely on elderly societal systems as little as possible when the end draws near.

While health, capabilities, and mental faculties all play pivotal roles in these choices, for my parents their third variable in their equation was their stuff. Lots of stuff. Said stuff had veto power on which dwelling to ensure no stuff was left behind. Said stuff dictated the need for big rooms, big closets, and big dusting chores. I remember one of the early Florida high-rise apartments they lived in was barely large enough for their stuff. My father, being the progenitor of my ability to spatial see things fitting, used his determination like a bridge-building engineer would, to get everything to fit. This apartment, however, more resembled a furniture store with its labyrinth-like foot paths through the wood and fabric filling each room seemingly to the max, yet allowing these secondary human residents to move about the maze. Did I mention lots of stuff?

I tell that story to emphasize why I’ll be more prepared than they for my next, since I’ve begun a healthy pursuit of stuff minimalism. Oh, not the true, sterile twig-and-a-cushion approach magazines love to visually offer, but a minimalism that fits my credo: I keep what I will honestly use, gives me joy, or provides a functional service for my life and its pursuits. Some of that definition is too broad, but in reality I am tight with the rules.

Embracing minimalism has some interesting benefits, from less space to more time and fewer responsibilities. All my stuff is used frequently (or, on my rules, it moves on to another to enjoy). I do have keepsakes, but only a few. And I have no parental urge to drag a bunch of spawn-destined stuff through my remaining years just so my boys can stare at it and think “Why did Dad think we’d want this?” Or worse: “Hey bro, can you believe Dad had this??” They already have what they need and like for the most part. Sure, there’s a few family hand-me-downs, but emphasis on the few. I remember my grandmother passing and none of her kids or grandkids or great-grandkids by then, could use anything. Everything ended up filling my parent’s garage for later donation, and that timeless cycle repeated itself after my parent’s passing.