“Between Friends” is one of my favourite comic strips, because it so often resonates with real life.
The information we post on Facebook …. or even in blogs!…can make it seem like life is always exciting and going according to plan, when in reality it is often either just routine, or running wildly off in all directions.
It’s been just over 13 months since we started travelling, and 7 since we completely divested ourselves of our “stuff” and decided to become nomadic. The pipe dream remains to see the world, 2 or 3 months per location, avoiding winter weather and gradually whittling our possessions down to just what we really need day-to-day.
So far, we’ve had reasonable success with the whittling down….. although it is still relatively early in the process, and I have plans to do more in the spring.
It has been harder than I expected this winter being away from my kids and grandkids for so long. Despite having spent 8 years with them half a country away, now that we’ve enjoyed proximity, I find myself reluctant to give it up again. Thank goodness for Skype!
We’ve been on a terrific river cruise in France during our first year, but the pre-trip stuff related to it was frustrating, requiring many, many followup calls and emails to ensure that our flights and paperwork ended up as they should.
Our planned winter 19/20 home in Mexico is being sold by its owners, so the search for next winter’s “home” went back to square one. On the upside, we’ve found lovely places in Tucson Arizona and San Antonio Texas, so will have an interesting road trip south in November.
I’ve also found out that simply “going” for 5 or 6 months is not as straightforward as getting in the car or onto a plane and unpacking at our destination. Apparently, other countries expect us to stay in our own most of the year! The U.S has a complicated system that allows 182 days per “running” year (add the # of days this calendar year plus 1/3 of the days last year plus 1/6 of the days 2 years ago and that TOTAL must be 182 or less – without doing IRS paperwork). The 23 European countries in the Schengen group only allow 90 days in each “running” 180, although Denmark will allow Canadians an extra 90. The U.K. and New Zealand also allow only 90 days. Mexico and Peru allow 180. China, Russia and others require visas for any length of travel.
All that means paperwork, Service Canada lineups and, in some cases, consulate visits…. plus registered mail that arrives needing signatures, which means staying in one place long enough to receive it. Being retired means we have the time to work through this stuff, but it’s still not “awesome”.
First world problems, we know.
We’ve also had a couple of personal glitches. Last summer was interrupted by dual cataract surgeries for Ted, and thyroid surgery for me. Prior to this, we’ve both been pretty healthy, so the sheer number of appointments associated with surgeries and follow-ups were a surprise. The 4 hour round trip from Collingwood back into the GTA almost weekly was not how we had planned to spend our summer and fall.
We now realize that we will have to stop and think about exactly where we spend our annual Ontario time. Access to our provincial health insurance plan means at least 5 months per year somewhere within the province. We were very lucky to find a great family doctor near Collingwood, so access to him may play into our plans – although we hope not to need to see him.
There are also personal adjustments we’ve had to consider. Ted and I adore each other (I know….. ewwww), but 24/7 together time exposed to each other’s quirks (I’m definitely a “bit” OCD and on top of that a control freak who was used to being the boss at work) can test even a saint’s patience. Ted comes close, but…
Anyway, February seems to be a month for reflection, and for honesty. We’ll keep sharing things we find interesting with all of you, but don’t be jealous.
It’s not sunny every day. Not all our plans run smoothly. We still do laundry and clean toilets (although far less often if we move around enough!). We experience stiff backs and tired feet. My flipflops occasionally give me blisters. We still get headaches and catch colds. We miss our family. We sometimes get on each other’s nerves.
It’s not ALL awesome.
It IS pretty darn good though!
Side note: if you haven’t checked it out yet and like animated movies, go see The Lego Movie 2, which features these “super pertinent”song lyrics:
Things can’t be awesome all of the time
It’s not realistic expectation
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
To make everything awesome
In a less likely, unrealistic kind of way
We should maybe aim for not bad
‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great
(We stick together)
Side by side, you and I, we will sing it together
Party forever (Together)