Last December 11, I posted an entry in this blog in which I announced our plans to pick up stakes and live a life of freedom and travel and writing and photography – working from wherever life happened to take us. The reality – as is almost always the case – turned out to be just a bit different than what I originally had in mind. But 2010 has been a year of self-discovery and dream fulfillment, nonetheless.
In retrospect, despite the planning and logistics involved, it all seems to have happened while in a walking dream. Would it be a cliche to use the word “surreal”??
Tim and I did, of course, sell our home in New Jersey – in 32 days! – almost record time, based on the economic realities of the day. And with just 5 weeks between signed contract and scheduled closing, we did manage to find a place to live – 600 miles away – in just 5 days flat, and sell / donate / give away a lot of our excess “stuff” before packing up the moving truck and heading Downeast.
I know … it all sounds so easy, right?
But here’s the previously “untold story” of the big move …
I don’t mind admitting that I had a near meltdown on the actual day of moving. I was so exhausted, and although it LOOKED and FELT like we had been making outstanding progress during those 5 weeks, the reality of June 2nd was that “WE ARE NEVER GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE!” (<<< That’s me wailing at 12 Noon)
Our “leaving the driveway” time had been set for 8 AM and somehow we found ourselves still emptying our Master Bedroom closets and packing up my jewelry in mid-afternoon (how could we have forgotten our clothes and my jewelry???) …
Throughout the afternoon, I was still running back-and-forth to our next door neighbor’s house to beg and borrow more boxes (the thousand I bought at Lowe’s not having been sufficient … don’t ask), and I was finally reduced to stuffing the remainder of our things into big green Glad trash bags. If stress were measured on a thermometer, I’m pretty sure the reading would have been 212 degrees.
At one point, I begged Tim to throw the mattress down on the living room floor and “Let’s just leave tomorrow morning!” Cooler heads (OK, Tim’s cooler head) prevailed, and we pushed on. I don’t think I’ve ever been more physically and mentally fatigued, although I know Tim had the worst of it, having done the lion’s share of the physical labor in 90+ degree heat and humidity.
Finally pulling away at 4 PM – Felix and me in my little Eos sports coupe and Tim piloting the can’t-fit-so-much-as-another-paperclip-in-here U-Haul – off we went to meet our future. I didn’t cry … OK, well, maybe just a little … but it was all over before we hit the New Jersey Turnpike. And no one knew (until now) except Felix, and he’s the most loyal cat in the world. (You never heard any of this from him, right?)
Owing to the late start, the original plan of a straight drive through was now out of the question. On the third check-in attempt (since the original plan did not include a stopover, I never looked up “pet-friendly hotels”), I decided it would be easiest to just sneak the cat into the motel, which we did. The next morning, he refused to eat the drugged food (loyal AND smart!), so we proceeded undrugged and uneventfully on to Bar Harbor. Well, except for the rain. Thankfully, I had gone ahead and hired people to unload the truck at our new place, after watching Tim struggle through loading a 17-foot moving truck virtually by himself for two full days. Those people were a Godsend, because by the time we arrived, we were just spent – the wind had gone completely out of our sails.
So, after dreaming about it for almost 21 years and putting every last waking moment of 5 weeks’ time into moving, we were home, and the main thought in my head was, “Oh my gosh … this is REAL!”
Despite the stutter-step of a 12-days-delayed closing and the very real threat that it would never happen at all (yes, AFTER we were already all settled in Bar Harbor! – a whole other story for another time), the hubs enjoyed (to paraphrase George Costanza), “The Summer of Tim” (c’mon, Seinfeld fans, you know what I’m talking about). This I happily participated in, since it entailed basking in bright sunshine and seaspray along the rocky coast and pretty much living like tourists in our new hometown. When not pursuing our shared interest in photography, I leaned toward working in the Adirondack chair on the front porch – every so often glancing up from my laptop toward Cadillac Mountain and pinching myself to see if it was all real. Yes, it was an idyllic existence that, quite literally, combined business and pleasure – with a decided emphasis on pleasure.
Fall brought on the inevitable realization that I needed to bring “break time” to an end and return to business in a serious way. Luckily, my part-time siesta did no long-term damage to my business or my professional reputation – on the contrary, this entire odyssey seems to have rekindled interest among some of my earliest clients while garnering new supporters, followers and fans. This whole “following my dreams” and “living life on my own terms” thing seems to be resonating with a lot of people!
Lately, however, the uncertainties of renting vs. owning have been weighing on us. Having been homeowners for our entire marriage, we’re finding it a bit disconcerting to have the end of a lease hanging over our heads. And a year goes by a lot faster when you’re counting down the months to potential homelessness. So, now we’re trying to decide: longer term lease or purchase a property here as a home base?
We still plan to travel some, hopefully beginning next year. The transformation of my business to being totally portable is complete, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve taken on several new clients and secured a couple of contracts with previous clients since moving here, and the new business model is working really well for all concerned. So, in that sense, I am “living a life untethered,” as I originally planned. But what a long strange trip it’s been!
As I look back on this year, my wish is that those who may be inspired by my crazy, ongoing story decide to grab the reins of their own life and ride on!
Yes, it’s a leap of faith, but if you don’t have faith in your ability to make your dreams come true, who can do it for you?
This post is dedicated to the memory of Felix, our beloved “little man.” We’re glad he got to be a Maine cat for a while. (5/19/02-1/31/13)