Over the past several years, I’ve been working on remaking my life. I dumped the loser “fiance,” got off the antidepressants, took control of my financial life, and stopped drinking booze. Within the next year or two, I’ll have ditched the practice of law and my time will be my own. It’s all part of a master plan. A master plan for the next phase of my life. I’ve got all the pieces in place. All I lack is an end game. A vision of what comes next, when Next gets here.
Sometimes I think I’ll live in Austin during winter and at the cabin in Canada in the summer. (As things stand currently, I’ll have to split summers with my sister, who has a similar plan.) The cabin, which sits on the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, is cozy and tranquil. It’s a perfect writing retreat. It’s a retreat from pretty much everything civilized. The nearest real grocery store is an hour’s drive into town. Summering (or half-summering) there would be a sweet respite. In theory.
As for my home base, I often do a loop around North America in my musings: Seattle or Bellingham, Washington or Portland, Oregon (too expensive?); Asheville, North Carolina (not progressive enough?); Central Mexico (by myself?); somewhere overseas (but, the cats); and I end up back in Austin. The cost of living here is relatively inexpensive and it’s a fairly progressive city. At least for Texas, it is. But it’s dreadfully hot many months of the year. And it’s getting a bit crowded these days, losing much of its charm.
Occasionally my continent-loop ends in compromise. Somewhere safe. I move to the Texas Hill Country. I buy a little piece of land. And a home with a bit more square footage and a screened porch for the Three Black Cats. I envision learning to grow a proper garden. Collecting rainwater. Installing solar panels and a metal roof. I ride my bike to the farmers market. (Apparently my garden isn’t entirely successful. Mostly because I leave and go to Canada for half the summer.) It sounds peaceful. I pull out my real estate app and start looking at homes.
Regardless of where my home base is, if I spend my summers at the cabin, I’ll be living a life much like my parents lived. Much like my sister plans to live. Shouldn’t I be a little more adventurous? Am I being lazy? Wouldn’t doing the Texas/Canada plan be living my parents’ life, instead of my own? Just as I was living my parents’ vision of life by going to college, then law school, then working in an office most of my life?
I read lots of early (and average-age) retirement blogs. I read of people’s adventures all over the world: Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain, Africa, Italy, Ireland. Of people’s adventures traveling the United States in RVs, buying (or building) tiny houses, doing house-sitting gigs taking care of llamas on the French countryside. The Texas/Canada plan seems tired in comparison.
Living my parents’ vision of life has narrowed my thinking. And has me fearful of living differently. After all, I’m embarking on this next phase, this untested unknown phase, on my own. Not as part of a couple, as with most of the blogs I read. I have conditioning to overcome. Conditioning that says men can do this sort of crazy risk-taking, but women can’t. Men can pack up and move to Mexico, or Panama. Women can’t. Not on their own. Women need to stick with the tried and true plan. Play it safe. Keep working. Build that stash into such a pile that it can withstand all eventualities. And then live somewhere safe. Maybe thirty miles or so from where they live currently. Do the Texas/Canada Plan.
And then I watch this video a blogging friend recently sent to me: Avicii’s I Could Be the One. I’m having fantasies now of grabbing my crotch on my way out the BigLaw door. And of remaking my life somewhere else. Somewhere that’s entirely mine.