Tag Archives: dreams

AND WE’RE OFF!

AND WE’RE OFF! DENVER – ST. JEAN PIED DE PORT
We are sitting here having a final coffee at Denver International before catching our first flight to Atlanta. Mike is finishing last minute business on the phone and is fully focussed on what’s happening on the other end of the line ….. on MY phone so I have time to write a bit about the events leading up to our departure.

Everything went perfectly as planned …. well, except for one minor detail. The plan was for us to drop the “Fox” at the dealership in Cheyenne for some specific, warranty repairs. After that, another RV repair business would pick up the Fox, do the rest of the warranty work, and then store it until our return. We had said that we would blow out the lines. Mike had never done it before and when he went online to see how to do it, he discovered he was missing some of the needed tools to do the job. That plus the fact it was cold and raining and we still had lots of final organizing, stowing, and cleaning to do in preparation for towing, made us feel pressed for time. We decided to let the dealership do the winterizing for us.

We finally set off for Cheyenne, Fox in tow, and headed up the pass, through the fog, to Cheyenne. Dropped the Fox without incidence, stopped off for breakfast at a local Dennys and were back in Laramie early afternoon. Dropped our Camino gear at Laurie and John’s and headed for the Dodge Dealership to drop the truck. We needed a service as well as new tires so we arranged for the dealership to store the truck until our return. So many details and so many things to remember but it all paid off. As each day passed and the “things to do” got checked off the list, the load seemed to lessen. Now, finally, all we had to do was get ourselves to DIA.

True pilgrims, we left Laramie on foot, headed for the shuttle to Denver. No, we didn’t want to walk all the way to Denver!!

We had reserved seats on the shuttle from Laramie to Denver. The trip was almost effortless and we spent the two hours listening to “Coffeebreak Spanish” which we had neglected the past week. The shuttle dropped us at DIA, we located the hotel shuttle and were comfortable ensconced in our hotel by 230pm or close to. Went for and early dinner to Ruby Tuesday’s – they have a great salad bar and mega sized beer – and were back in time to catch the news, make some last calls to friends and family, and watch another episode of the documentary about the Vietnam War we’ve been caught up in.

My dear friend Carol had asked me if I expected to sleep well – that she never did prior to a long flight – I nonchalantly said I expected no problems sleeping. Famous last words….2am rolled around and I was wide awake, reviewing the “inventory of useless concerns”. By 415 I was still awake. I must have finally snoozed because the 5am alarm woke me up in the midst of a ‘car accident’ dream.

We had arranged to take the 625am shuttle but since we were ready we took the 545 one instead. We had to still get euros and wanted not to rush and worry. Everything went so smoothly.

Mid-flight on our way from Denver to Atlanta: just had breakfast. We’re way at the back of the plane and were among the last 9 passengers to receive food and drink service. We hit a bumpy patch which they had warned us about – a very bumpy patch which delayed the service as the flight attendants hung on for dear life – but finally we got our rations.

 

 

WHAT NOW?

Tilly & I have lived a blessed life for the last 8 years. Living and working overseas, traveling to and spending long forays in exotic lands. Every year we took at least two what for most would be trips of a lifetime. We trekked the Himalayas…. bicycled the Rhine in Germany and the tulip fields of Holland in April… wandered Paris, Barcelona and the south of France … spent a Christmas in a Medieval castle int the Pyrenees… went  scuba diving on the coast of Oman while living aboard a dhow for a week… and much more.

In each other we found the perfect partner in our respective romantic, spiritual, creative and wandering instincts. However, in the back of both our minds was the desire to really pursue our creative talents. We found that while working for a living, we were too exhausted, overwhelmed  and stressed to really put the efforts we wanted into our talents and our preliminary efforts while promising petered out under the pressures of work. Out of that desire was born the decision to retire from our teaching careers.

It is one thing to have a desire and intent. It is quite another to actualize the intent. We had meticulously saved and invested for the “future” but, that future  “ retirement” seemed so far away as to be fantasy.  The events of the Arab Spring were to change that.

Having been advised by our respective embassies to leave Bahrain in March of 2011 and at the invitation from good friends S&B we flew to southern California for what turned out to be a three week stay. We liked the desert environment and as a lark we decide to “look” at houses that were for sale; not dreaming that we could afford to buy.  Life has a way of throwing things in our path that changes our entire plan(s); within a week we had found a house and made a purchase offer. Not only could we afford it but could do so mortgage free. Within the month we owned our own home back home in North America. Within two months the realization hit that we could work just one more year and then retire.

We spent the summer of 2011 setting up our new home, in between visits to family and friends with the gracious help of our good friends C&C. We finished setting up during the Christmas holiday of 2011 again with C&C at our sides. The stage was set and we began the process figuring out all the details of ending our expat life and returning “home”. We planned and schemed but, knew there were some things that we could not take care of until we were “home”.  We left Bahrain and the Middle East for good in June.

So it has been 2 months, 4 weeks and 1 day since we returned to North America to begin our “retirement”. BUT we have only been 7 days in our own home . We knew that just as every other summer we would need to spend at least 2 months visiting our far flung family and friends.

When you spend 10 months of every year 1/2 a world away once a year personal visits are really important. Keeping contact is difficult because  the 10-11 hour time difference makes phone calls hard to coordinate. You don’t want to call your friends and family in the middle of their night! And sure as heck you don’t want them doing the same to you. No better method to dissolve a relationship than to interrupt a good nights sleep.

My daughter’s wedding (which we would not have missed for the world) required a  three week time frame and the requisite visits to other family and friends took a full 2 months to complete.  We do not regret the time spent but, we had no time for ourselves to deal with the remaining questions of retirement.

Some how we thought that we could merrily slip into the retirement mode…having the freedom and time to follow our dreams where ever they lead. Who knew that  when we decided to stop the “working for a living” life style things were going to get a whole lot more complicated and stressful!

When we were working for a living, things were fairly simple. Got up early … made it to work on time… put in required time… took home that which we could not complete at the “school” …. finally falling into bed a few scant hours before we started the cycle over again… praying all the time for “FRIDAY” so we could break that cycle for two days. In return we got a steady income and a few benefits (medical insurance, vacation time and with luck a few other perks). We were able to live a fairly consistent and routine life … we knew what to expect… decisions were made by our school/work calendar.  Other than what to do on vacation or holidays our daily life was fairly well mapped out.

We keep busy morning to night with our art, writing, physical activities, and other interests; often wondering how we ever had the time to work. Our stress is in the choosing of another framework for our life not in having nothing to do. We have discovered more choices to make, decisions to reach and from those, more choices and decisions. Our plans are changing with each new choice.

It was all figured out or so we believed… We would “retire” from teaching to live in Southern California, find another mode to make enough money to see us the 5 to 7 years until old age benefits began and live our life while still able to enjoy it. We would get catastrophic health coverage just in case, while we sought part-time employment that offered medical benefits (yes there are companies that do offer their part-timers benefits). In the mean time we would pursue and perfect our respective arts, photography and writing in the goal of selling them.

It sure seemed like a great plan… but, life always has a way of throwing things in our path that can change the entire plan… luckily for us it is not a serious or life threatening illness.

When a person works for a company in the US that offers health insurance benefits … all is good. But if you need to find health coverage as an individual things go to hell in a hurry.

Of course we could have opted for Jesus Life & Casualty – where you pray you do not get sick or injured and if you do it is not more serious than a flu bug or a splinter and if it is serious you pray to pass on quickly enough not to drain your families resources. That might be a decent temporary solution for healthy young folks that have not much to lose and time to make up the loss. But for us older folks; we have everything we worked hard to gain to lose and NO time to ever make up for it.

Thus begins our saga … finding health insurance…  and we ask ourselves, “WHAT NOW?”

To be continued…