Nicky Nichtern

Nicky Nichtern


So what was it that got me here? I’m only 71, fiercely independent, and still working. When I announced my decision to sell my house and buy into Laurelmead, by many friends standards, all three of those criteria would have immediately put me on the “she’s nuts” list!

One answer to the “why would you do that?” is that I’m impulsive, and the other would be I trust my instincts. Both were in play here, and both have proved to be well founded. Ten months ago, on a whim, I came to Laurelmead with two friends on our way to lunch – just to see what it was all about. We had heard there were quite a few available apartments, and that prices had readjusted due to this fact. 

We started at the top (literally and figuratively) and worked our way down. When we opened the door to the available 2-bedroom 2-bath with balcony on the 3rd floor I was greeted with a close-up, wide-open view of a cluster of tall trees, and then the river just behind them. Breathtaking, and for me, very reminiscent of the view from a house I had lived in about 30 miles up the Hudson River years ago when I was still a New Yorker.

I went home and made a list of what my monthly expenses of being a homeowner were (mortgage, gas, electric, AC, heat, internet, taxes, lawn care, snow plowing, heath club, food, house cleaning…) and the total came out to a $22 difference between the monthly expenses of owning and operating my house and the monthly fee at what would become my new home. 

Scaling down was it’s own reward. Books and records that were serving only as décor, dishes, sheets, blankets, almost the entire contents of my garage - all were donated to furnish 2 apartments for 2 refugee families that were coming to Providence through a resettlement program at Dorcas International. I found a new home for just about everything I decided not to drag along with me any more. My grown-up kids were thrilled that, although now where near time yet, when it would be time, I had done most of the work that would have fallen to them.

I did think I was on the young side – each time I went to Laurelmead to check it out before closing the deal, I’d sit in the lobby, or swim in the pool, or have lunch in the Café, attend an evening concert or talk, and I wasn’t at all sure I’d find new friends – acquaintances yes, but since I’ve never been a joiner, I honestly thought I’ll just pull my car into the garage, zip up in the elevator, and tuck myself into my new place, and not really have to mix and mingle, after all, I had lived in many apartments in NYC and you get to be on smiling basis in the elevator or lobby and that’s about it – and I was so drawn to the peace and beauty of what was to be my new home, and the long, long list of amenities that come along with life at Laurelmead, so I took the plunge. 

I put the house on the market, had a full price offer within a week and I moved out six weeks later – the end of last January.  Two days later it snowed and as I stood at the window marveling at the beauty I broke out into a big smile - I didn’t have to shovel, or get plowed out, or worry about water in the basement! Not my problems anymore! 

And a couple of hours later, as I was unpacking, I needed some help hanging paintings, so I picked up the phone. Seven minutes later 2 men from the Maintenance Department appeared – hammers, nails, ladder, and smiles. “OK” I thought – “I can give my toolbox to my son too – I won’t be needing it here”!

And then Claire, head of housekeeping came by to set up a schedule for when my apartment would be cleaned. And she let me know that Jean would also be able to feed my cat when I was away. OK…cross off another few things from my “to do” list. And then I went to take a good long soak in the hot tub down at the pool, came upstairs and got ready for dinner with 4 residents who had reached out to this “newbie” inviting me to join them in the dining room. Each one, and many more to come over the months, with welcoming smiles, rich stories to tell, and a social dinner hour to share with me. 

And a stack of papers was waiting for me in my mailbox with lists of talks, concerts, movies, shopping excursions - at Laurelmead and in both Providence and Boston – a wide variety of activities in which to partake, or not. Transportation to and from if they were off-site, or just an elevator ride away if they were on-site.

And then it was nighttime and another realization hit me - I didn’t have to worry about the break-and-enters that had become a regular occurrence on the fashionable East Side. No alarm to set when I locked up for the night, and no worry about the flood lights that were set off regularly by a scampering raccoon. 24/7 security here – all included!

Certain aspects of my world, and the responsibilities as they were, have indeed been dramatically reduced, while at the same time, and most unexpectantly, others dramatically expanded. Letting go of those responsibilities and worries made room for me to enhance and expand – and it’s been very stimulating and exciting to be at this phase/age of my life and have a whole new thing going on! 

And that’s when I began to realize I had bought into something much more than a comfy apartment, still in the same zip code, but with an ease to life I had not experienced before. The real boon was not evident to me at first, but oh how it is now – it’s the people who also live here. A community of inspiring, friendly, and generous people. Over and over again. 

Gotta go. They’re playing The Big Short downstairs and I don’t want to miss the beginning.

Nicky Nichtern

November 2, 2016