Ever have the occasion to travel and sleep in a hotel room or at someone’s home and wake up in the night with a mild panic of not having knowing where we were? Having this momentary lapse or confusion is a little startling. We soon got over this feeling and all was well, but it’s a little disconcerting to experience this.
We are expecting to see our normal surroundings, and when we don’t, it takes a minute to piece everything together as to where we are and what we are now experiencing as being OK. For a brief moment, things didn’t register with us the way that we expected.
This is what often happens when we move into a different home. As much as we were looking forward to the move, and as much as we were familiar with the layout of it and our own furnishings, it was still different for the first few nights than what we had been experiencing at our previous home. Some people may experience this sensation more than others, and it may have something to do with how sound of a sleeper we are. Still, there is this different setting to contend with and make quick sense of while half asleep.
Sounds in a new home or apartment are going to be different than what we have been experiencing in our previous residence. Garbage trucks on a different schedule – particularly in the pre-dawn hours – are going to seem louder than usual. Sirens from emergency vehicles may be more frequent than where we used to live. Train whistles, vehicle horns and road noises, overhead airplanes, lawn crews from neighboring homes or the community association, and other noises that we are familiar with yet may get our attention in the middle of the night or as we are waking. Even throughout the day, these sounds can take a little getting used to when compared to what we were experiencing at our last residence.
Then, in addition to getting used to new and different sounds in our new home, there is just getting used to where things are. That cabinet in the kitchen where we kept the cereal or our coffee cup is now located elsewhere. The refrigerator is in a different location. The microwave has different setting on it. The shower mixing valve is different, and the hot water comes out more forcefully than before or quicker.
During the day, the sunlight comes in differently than what we had been experiencing, and some objects in our home (picture frames and wall mirrors, for instance) may create more glare (or at a different time of day or for a longer period) than we were expecting. At dusk or at dawn, sunlight may illuminate our home differently than before and create shadows that were didn’t immediately recognize.
In the closet, learning where we have hung everything may take a couple of days to get used to, and we may find ourselves going back to a location there where we used to keep them. The same thing happens with dressers, cabinets, and other storage items. We may have organized things differently to accommodate the space requirements or layout of our new home – being smaller and more compact than our previous one or more spacious with additional furniture allowed.
All of this points to reasons why it’s great when we don’t need to move or feel that a move is necessary for us. Sometimes it may be, but when we can stay where we are in our long-term (forever or permanent) home, we don’t need to be making adjustments based on where things are located in our home (unless we have recently rearranged the furniture or where we store certain items)
Even if we occasionally get new furniture, consolidate where items are kept as we get rid of a few things we had been hanging onto or to make them more convenient to access, or rearrange the furniture in our home, it’s still the same floor plan and structure. The outside sounds, the noises the home might make in the middle of the night, and the way outside light enters our windows is still the same. This we have gotten used to long ago.
By staying where we are and not moving – by aging in place – we have eliminated the learning curve of adapting to a new place to live. We have learned everything to the point that we feel we could navigate our home successfully even with our eyes closed or during a power outage. Even when we are having a bad day and just want our homes to be nice to us or stay out of the way, we generally find that they can accommodate us this way also.