Lois Janis is an educational psychologist who taught at Glendale College and more recently has been conducting humanities workshops for retired people. She and her husband, Harvey, are now leaving California so she can follow a dream.
We've decided to put the house up for sale and buy a condominium in a small village, off the beaten path, in Maui. I went over there to visit my daughter two years ago. When I got off the plane, I completely fell in love with it. The smell of plumeria, the humidity in the air, it just felt right.
People are amazed that we would take this step. It just seems so natural to me. In the '50s we were considered quite maverick because we came to California from Philadelphia on our honeymoon and never went back.
This is an end of an era for me, because we're leaving this house where I raised my children and the house that I designed. At this time in my life, I have this need to put things in perspective.
I am only 54, and I want to have time to become a wise person and to express myself. I want to take a chance and work at things that I think are creative. I feel that I'm gifted. I'm an artist, and I can write. What I'm into now is to articulate what it was like to have this life, to put it together in a book called, "My Quilt, Myself."
I have the need to get away from the center of things, to become more centered on myself and more introspective so I can write or conduct my classes or whatever. I'm more than ready to leave my life here. You have to think of things as not being irreplaceable. Otherwise you spend your whole life worrying you're going to lose them.
When I started planning the move to Maui, it had a lot more romantic quality than it does now. It means deciding what to take. The things that are part of me have to go. I just decided yesterday that I was going to take the harpsichord. I'm taking this whole graffiti wall in the kitchen by making a quilt the size of the wall. It's a prophetic wall of my two daughters' activities, dreams and expectations for life. When they were kids, they would write on it in oil pastel crayons. I have a need to take the wall, so I'm doing it the best way I can.
When I first went to Hawaii, I learned that I could be there for three months with only one suitcase, so I began to become much more selective. I have 6 feet of closet space. That's all the clothes I need for living right now and maybe four pairs of shoes. Contrast that to my husband's closet, which has 60 shirts, 100 ties and 50 pairs of shoes or something like that. I have to keep after him about that. I call the place we're moving to a condo-minimum so we can continually remember how little space there is. He is a collector, and he feels attached to material things a little more than I do.
I'm lucky that my husband had the smarts in the early years to achieve what he wanted to achieve--a certain monetary success and security. He took early retirement six years ago. Now it's my turn to achieve what I want to achieve.
One of the problems in this move is that my husband wasn't that willing to go. I've been the one who took the initiative in all of this. It was a whole kind of marriage change, too. But he's going to go to Hawaii. A lot of my women friends who are more traditionally oriented toward marriage are kind of upset with me because I'm more or less forcing the issue.
We lived here on this particular lot in North Hollywood because my husband worked downtown and wanted to be near the freeway. We've been married 35 years, so I said, "If we are going to be married 35 more years, I think it is my turn to decide where we should live. I want to go to Hawaii so I can be close to nature and get close to my inner work."
We've heard it said that a couple talks more the first year they are married and the last. So we're wondering, "Is this the last year we're going to be married? Because we're talking so much?" The other thing we've heard is that if a couple talks, they're OK, even if they talk loud.