There comes a time in life when we reach a crossroad and find ourselves standing on the corner of Old Age Avenue and Tired of Working Street. I assure you this is a real place and many of us tend to stand there way too long deciding what to do.
My husband is a decade older than me. We’ve done our best to save and prepare in hopes we can align our retirement years with one another. What’s the point of having a husband if I can’t enjoy him, anyway? With everything in life there are numerous small goals to achieve in order to achieve the big picture of all goals. It’s never ending and exhausting.
He and I are utterly different.
He’s more of the corporate, “work yourself into the grave for the man” type of guy. He owns seven pairs of khaki slacks. We both have our own view (flaws) on what a career should be. As a writer and artist I often feel I’m peddling for cash more so than earning an income.
This wasn’t always my view. In my younger days (until 2016) I worked a 9–5 in immediate crisis stabilization until one night when my office was shot up by gang members and I decided it was time for a career change.
He’s got this live inside the box while accumulating materialistic possessions (mostly electronics and pickup trucks) thing about him. I lean more toward the basics. Shelter, water and food while problem solving like MacGyver, meaning to somehow manage living off of what we have.
We live in Iowa. Ah, inhale deeply and take it all in. Beautiful land, small community, no crime, no chaos. We haven’t always lived here, though. We moved from Phoenix in the summer of 2016.
We still own a house there. We rent it out with the goal of having it pay for itself and then having a warm place to go in the winter months of our golden years. Recently we’ve discussed why we’d want to go back there only to discover neither of us do. We left for a reason.
I say, Sell the house and buy a van to travel around the country.
He agrees! (Which if you knew us you’d know we never, ever agree on anything, ever. It’s truly as dramatic as I’m attempting to make it sound. For real, tho.)
Now, for a plan. We sell the property and use the money to pay off any debt, invest an equal amount into a twenty year maturing trust for each of our children, spend $10,000 on a van and the rest goes into savings.
Again, he agrees. I can’t help but to feel a bit freaked out. This is too easy, I thought.
Until it wasn’t.
I knew I would have to research, organize and strategically plan with visual aids and diagrams before presenting my ideas to him. He and I are quite different.
I’m a bit of a free spirit who lives by the ideal that everything is figure-out-able. He’s an overthinking catastrophizer. What he refers to as playing devils advocate and viewing things from alternative perspectives I refer to as overreacting.
I think we should start winding down to retirement now, I said. I feel confident this is the right move for us. Our youngest graduated high school this year.
Our time has come.
He retires at 55 and we start collecting on his pension. That should be enough money to cover the house bills each month while my peddling for cash covers travel expenses.
I did the math. Food + gas + miscellaneous expenses = survival. I can write from wherever we are, hit up the WiFi in coffee shops and public libraries when I need to and bring in enough cash to solve the expenses equation.
I want to wait until I’m 62 to retire, says the workaholic. I don’t want to be one of those people who die once I stop working. I need purpose.
Okay, fair enough. I understand and respect how he feels. 62 it is! I insist. I don’t want you to be too old by the time I get to enjoy your retirement years with you.
I have a dream, a fantasy, an idea of what I want my life to be. We can spend nights sleeping beneath the stars in national parks and soaking up rays of sun while lounging on the beach. We can take selfies with historical monuments and post photos of us spooning on Facebook. We can climb mountain tops, pitch a tent in the wilderness, hike the desert and ski the slopes. We can go anywhere we’ve ever wanted (within the U.S., of course).
Next up, finding a van. A used vehicle with the best gas mileage we can find is the route to take. We can transform it into a living space.
I was in disbelief, though I don’t know why. His “vision” far exceeded my expectation. He typically takes my simple idea and dives overboard with it. Uh, that gets six miles per gallon. We wouldn’t be able to afford to leave Iowa.
That’s not what I calculated into the equation. I envisioned something more like using public restrooms, eating soup by candlelight and crashing for the night in free campsites.
He switched on his ability to not hear me (a skill he’s developed through practice over the years) and our back and forth banter continued.
One of us is on the right track and the other clearly has no clue what realistic means. This is going to take time, open communication and hashing out a plan we may or may not both agree on.
As long as we achieve the big picture of goals I know this is figure-out-able and we have until 2028 to pull our plan together. Once we do I’ll be writing from the road. I’ll be exploring life with my best friend. We’ll be traveling the country as free as can be.
The best part? We’ll be doing it while we’re still young enough to walk to the bathroom by ourselves.