We are stepping out of our “Radical Sabbatical” a bit frayed and tattered. Nearly 20 months since we quit our jobs and the better part of a year before that of planning and preparing. I think of it as a series of episodes, some brief and some long. Regardless of date of return from our overseas travel, the ‘next steps’ are the same. Re-entry into the work force, establish home again and settle into routine.
I have 10-15 years of full-time ‘required’ work before I can call myself truly retired; although, I now know I am most healthy being productive and adding value. While traveling I realized that it’s no longer important ‘WHAT’ I do for a living but with whom I do it. My last years at ABC were the best of my career so, with Vickie’s support, I have decided to focus my attention on returning to ABC. The specifics of the role are still under negotiation. Working as a remote employee isn’t an option, a change in the company’s direction I knew when I terminated my employment; therefore, we have to live in one of the cities where there’s an office: Valley Forge (PA), Charlotte (NC), or Frisco (TX). We chose the city with the shortest plane ride to our family and friends.
Vickie had only been to Texas when we traveled to San Antonio in 2016. The final step before making the final decision about where we’d live was to travel to Frisco to explore and look at apartments. To be honest, neither of us were terribly excited about living in Texas. It certainly wasn’t on the list of possibilities but we always knew my job would dictate our ultimate location. Texas has a reputation for being extremely conservative, non-LGBT friendly and lacking in diversity. We were pleasantly surprised to find Frisco to be widely diverse and comfortable. The weather was pleasant and there’s even promise of a winter. I contacted an apartment locator and provided criteria that she used to put together a list of properties for us to review while in town. We went to 13 of the 17 properties before finding the place and signing the lease.
We returned to Phoenix to gather what few belongings we kept at the casita and say our ‘so longs’. Vickie had planned to help her cousin with her mom’s (Vickie’s Aunt Barbara) estate and move to Washington after we were to arrive in Frisco, but the situation changed and she ended up going to California before the move. The change in plans meant I drove to Texas by myself. Everything we had in the casita fit into the Subaru and the 1,100 miles took the better part of 2 days. The drive was a gift to process through some thoughts and emotions about leaving Arizona, where I’d lived my entire life.
Before the ink was dry on the lease, we went shopping! Nebraska Furniture Mart was like Disneyland. Our furniture was scheduled for delivery the day after I arrived to the apartment and it was like Christmas! Most of the furniture I’ve owned have first been owned by someone else, so having all new stuff has been fun. Starting a home from scratch has been a bigger project than I expected. It’s amazing how many little things that simply accumulate over the years and are, therefore, taken for granted. For example, scissors!!! The most important household tool.
We decided to use our travel expertise and learn about our new home and take a tour of Dallas and Ft Worth. We spent a day with a tour guide learning about the cattle industry history of Ft Worth and all the museums and neighborhoods of downtown Dallas. There is a lot to do in Dallas and we look forward to getting into the theaters. The tour ended on the grassy knoll where John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the Dallas/Ft Worth area, but explained the hundreds of hours he has spent studying the JFK history. It was fascinating hearing about his studies and comparing things we’ve also heard and learned over the years and then physically standing in the exact place.
Cancun, Mexico was the only part of the overseas travel we didn’t cancel and was planned as the place to be our final retreat before having to return to reality. I hadn’t been to Mexico in over 25 years and had always been a little apprehensive about vacationing there but after watching many of our friends and family share their experiences there, I was convinced to go. We were gifted a beautiful timeshare by our friends, Lori and Ginny, and we enjoyed a full week in the jungle. We purposely didn’t plan too many activities during our stay because we wanted to simply relax and enjoy the ocean air. I caught a bad cold early in the week, but still managed to attend the Cirque du Soleil show, Joya. One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life was our hike through the Rio Secreto (Secret River). Overall, the hike was less than a mile through clear, cool water. Sometimes the water was below our knees and sometimes we couldn’t touch the bottom. In addition to those things and hanging out by the pool, under a palapa, while the pool staff brought us food and beverages, we enjoyed a relaxing couple’s massage. It was the perfect way to spend the final week of our amazing, adventurous chapter.
It’s been 11 weeks since that final night in Lisbon, Portugal. Vickie and I have worked very hard to mend and strengthen our bond to prepare for our future. It’s no cliché that marriage isn’t always easy. I can say with confidence, though, that I am ALL IN… and so is she. We’ve agreed to call Wednesday, October 4, as the first day of the next new chapter and there’s no one else in the world with whom I’d rather do this crazy, wild ride call LIFE.