We’ve actually already set in motion, if just barely, the plan which will eventually send us packing across thousands of miles to a life of which we have little or no experience, given blizzards, tornadoes, ice on the roads, mosquitoes, high humidity, not to mention – not a Trader Joe’s in sight. Why, one would ask (and they do) would we give up the California sunshine, that whole vibe and lifestyle? I keep thinking of my mother who came as a bride in the early thirties on the reverse journey we are taking, continuing to the day of her death singing the praises of what she discovered when she first saw the mountains and the ocean and the palm trees and “thought she’d died and gone to heaven”. So how did it come about, this reversal of an entire way of life? It’s called retirement.
Some years ago, when I was still in my early 60’s, or perhaps even earlier, we made an attempt to “get serious” about the whole retirement plan, and that was before nasty, nefarious financial institutions managed to wipe out much of a modest, but hopeful retirement account. And also before the unholy reality of a ludicrously inflated real estate market here in the Over-The-Moon State of California. And I frankly don’t feel all that bad about the lost equity after the crash, the now seemingly huge sum that would have sealed our future til the end of our days. I don’t feel ALL that bad because it wasn’t real, not in the real world out there beyond the borders we still inhabit. However, it definitely leads us to Plan B, which is actually Plan A with more modest goals and accommodations.
Whenever we did bring up the “what’s the plan and what’s to-be-done about “retirement” subject, it was agreed that the answer would be twofold: live “free and clear” and live near family. The “free and clear” had a wide range of possibilities at the time. Family mainly meant California where 5 children and 4 grandchildren and (at the time) a mother were firmly planted. In the past year, when we could no longer elude the reality of both being on the middle and upper side of the 70’s, and no longer pretend that I would continue to work in perpetuity, the plan, the need for a “real” plan, became more apparent.
It was at a family reunion on a cousin’s farm south of Fargo two years ago, that we had one of those “DUH” moments. My parents grew up on either side of the Red River of the North, south of Fargo/Moorhead – Hickson, N.D. and Comstock, MN for the record. I was the only one of eighteen cousins who didn’t grow up “back home”, with the exception of my cousin, Skip, who wasn’t that far off, at least culturally in northern Washington. I was the only child of parents who had moved to the coast, to the mountains and the ocean and the palm trees, and as a child I longed for the family. Robert (formerly referred to as just “husband”) was the child of divorced parents and definitely not the recipient for a lot of familial fun.
And that’s where it all began.