In early May of last year, Barry and I sat down on the couch for a Big Decision. At the end of the evening, we had worked out the actual dates when we would leave our jobs. Despite six years of planning, I vividly recall being terribly afraid of this rash step we were taking. For weeks afterward, I felt as if I was leaping off a cliff, unable to see the bottom.
We all build up momentum in our lives. It’s hard enough for a single person to decide on a change, but for couples, there’s more mass and therefore more inertia. Increase the family size, add a house, cars, and personal possessions, and the thought of making a change starts to look like a big train wreck.
A year into our retirement, Barry and I have never been more free. We are currently unencumbered by “stuff,” having no car, no home, no furniture. Without jobs, nobody owns our time but us. If we could figure out what to do with the cat, we could sign up for private space travel and go to the moon!
But that doesn’t make decision-making any easier. It actually makes it harder. Think about it: When was the last time you had to make a really big decision? Not a little decision, like what color of underwear today. Not a little decision, like whether to order tofu or a cheeseburger. A big one, that would impact every single day and might change the direction your life would take.
If the thought of such a decision makes you want to stick your head in the sand, like an ostrich, you know how we feel. When I lift my head, I see a vast horizon littered with choices of where to live, what to do with my time, how to make a difference in the world.
When we left Cayenne, I thought we might stay on the east coast and buy a small boat. Barry was inclined towards going back to Seattle and building our next boat. The day we left the boat, we started exploring those options and found problems with both of them. Barry pointed out that a used boat would probably require a lot of work, and he wasn’t enthusiastic about being in a boatyard so soon. I was lukewarm on building right away, for the same reason.
Zooming down the interstate on cruise control, with our four-legged feline napping in the back seat, a plan started to form. We once took a long vacation from work that we called “The Interlude.” Now it’s time for “The Interlude Two,” an attitude adjustment and respite from working on boats.
The original interlude was a two-year odyssey in Peepcar that involved crossing the country five times and riding 1500 miles on our bicycles. Not exactly a great lifestyle for an 18-year-old cat. Her Royal Highness has demanded that a) this time we bring her along and b) we provide her with some sort of conveyance appropriate for her station in life. To wit, an RV!
Now, you’d think that once we acquiesced to this demand, the decision of which RV to buy would be easy. Not so! HRH Kitty’s demands are simple, compared to ours. She wants a cool place to nap and a clean, tidy MFCS (mobile feline comfort station). But Barry and I want something that’s got tons of living space and at the same time is easy to drive and easy to park. And which is exceedingly cheap or nearly free.
Every day, we study the Internet and the classified ads. We’ve climbed into truck campers, Class C motorhomes, and fifth-wheel trailers. We’ve discovered that the construction of these things gives new meaning to the words “flimsy” and “shoddy” (thank God they don’t have to float). We’ve seen 1990’s “geefatchie gold” trim and 1970’s “harvest gold” upholstery. We’ve disoriented the salesmen by showing up on a 95-degree day riding bicycles.
And still we can’t decide what rig to buy. Probably any of them would be fine, but which one we choose influences where and how we travel. We’ve tried sitting on the couch, discussing the options. We’ve tried debating our choices while taking long walks. We’ve tried “visualization exercises.”
You know what I think? I think it’s like the story about Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, lost in the woods all day with Rabbit. When Rabbit finally went chasing off in the wrong direction, Pooh took Piglet’s paw and led him right home. Said Pooh, “With all the noise Rabbit was making, I couldn’t hear my honey pot calling.” Once Barry and I get tired of all the discussing and debating, we’ll fall quiet. And then, I hope, the right answer will call out and we’ll hear it.