When you’re only half way there
This is really a story about “wandering” when you decide to take some time off. I’m still in the process of taking some extended time off and left full time employment 4 years ago now.
My wife still works a full time job and is the sole income for our family. I’ve had a few things on my plate during the time off, but this is not about that.
This is specifically, feelings about being off, while your partner is NOT off.
We moved to NYC, and Brooklyn specifically, in 1996.
I’ve seen every little corner of the city transformed in a number of different ways. This is about “going home again”.
A lot of people have VERY clear ideas about what they want to be doing and working on while in retirement, or if they take some extended time off.
I used to think that I did, but I don’t. It’s actually opened up a bigger “can of worms” about what I was doing, leading up to this point. I love when people write about unexpected curve balls that have popped up in their life, because they usually mirror my own experience.
Maybe it’s that I just haven’t fully embraced it, or maybe I fear running out of money so I want to keep the door open to earn more. I don’t know.
I had my hip replaced about a year ago now, and yesterday was my 1 year follow up visit to my doctor. I’ve been back several times before this, but 6 months ago, he said, come back on the 1yr anniverssary. You’re good.
I arrived for my 8am appointment, on my own for the first time since I’ve recovered. The receptionist told me that my doctor was still stuck in surgery from the morning. (jeesh…how early does this dude start!?)
I wasn’t the least bit mad. I simply said… well..that’s good for somebody. Me, the receptionist and another patient standing in line, all agreed and we went on our way.
What if: We had more gratitude for things?
Going home again
With unexpected free time on my hands, I stepped onto the busy street, bustling with young kids with backpacks heading school.
Scampering around and standing in line for a bagel with me, but I bailed because the counter person was not there.
Jumping on the subway I rode about 10 stops from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, to the neighborhood where we first lived during our first year in Brooklyn.
It’s an eerie feeling being a non-commuter when you were so familiar with doing that at a certain time of day. Now I usually ride during windows of time that have a lull.
Popping above ground a bagel place was right in front me and I picked one up for $1.63 in this trendy neighborhood, where it was only $1 in my current neighborhood. It was worth it, but I still worry about inflation.
I sat on a bench just outside the store in a light cold drizzle as people walked by. Oblivious to the rain in my puffy coat while passersby focus on their phone or their deliveries.
What if: I really do run out of money?
The more things change…
Making my way up the block that was very familiar to me, (I usually visit about once per year) I noticed that several houses on the block were corralled in by plywood, with a developers logo slapped on the side.
I’ve noticed that happening a lot. Combining plots to make larger dwellings. No big deal, but it can change the landscape and the complexion of a neighborhood. It doesn’t feel like home any longer.
It feels like everyone left and was replaced by duplicates of “Invasion of the body snatchers.” Wandering around a city while everyone else is at work or school is not really fun.
Looking across the street, I noticed that our favorite little Spanish restaurant, where we could eat like a King and Queen for $5 each, is now a Chipotle.
I texted my wife this news and her one word reply was simply “Darn”.
What if: Things change more than you anticipated?
The cost of everything
Who doesn’t stop by the real estate windows to benchmark how they’re doing in relation to others and what the going rate is for rentals?
I do, in most neighborhoods I visit and even on vacation. An apartment similar to the one we used to rent for $1,500 per month, is now about double that.
A similar place for sale, around the same square footage of our current place is listed at over $900K. Ours is only worth half that, and is about 5 miles away.
What if: We bought one of those places and took the advice of our landlord not to leave the neighborhood?
There will always be “What if’s”
I should listen to myself more often and have gratitude for the things that DID work out right or be bouyed by the possibility of “What’s next”. However, I think it’s more in our nature to question: “Woulda, shoulda, coulda”.
I just don’t want that to dominate the here and now, or our future. Plus, it actually helps me plan for the future or avoid mistakes we’ve made in the past. Until we both have the flexibility to decide what is next for us, I’m still searching for what works for me and how I can continue to contribute to our family. Before I decided to take some time off, I had never taken off more than 1 week, ever in my life. Now I’m working on a 4 year vacation and there are still more questions than answers. Time to fix that.