Leaving the city wasn’t so hard. As I said, my heart wasn’t in it. Not anymore. For some reason, the family trip across the continent and the month in Europe had disconnected me from the cul de sac and I just wasn’t ‘fully there’ anymore. So contemplating leaving was not hard for me.
Bit of a leap for Sal, tho. She did not go unhesitating into that small inflatable dream-boat to travel to the wilds with not even a house in which to create a semblance of a home. She couldn’t even visualize it. Neither could I. That took some time. That took some faith. Lots of research, too. And it took not just a few promises to sweeten the slowly simmering pot of her interest.
Commitment would have to wait for awhile.
Even making it an interesting idea wasn’t an easy sell. To be fair to her, it was a bit ‘early’ by the standard rules of retirement. In fact, we hadn’t even thought of it as such yet. So far, it was just loose talk. Sally had a good job, good pay and the kids were mostly fledged. And talk was cheap. It was really just exploring an idea.
But it was also true that Sal (and I) was emerging from the GIANT ‘take-good-care-of-all-the-family’ responsibility phase and passing into the ‘got-your-back’ phase of parenting. We were going from the full-time press to the emergency response team and the pressures were reducing. There was a bit of room for dreaming, anyway.
And, I confess, I was on that dreaming-about-retirement-thing a bit sooner than most.
And it was all going smoothly. Pretty much. My son, more naturally independent than a baby turtle – right from the start – was well established in his routine, going to university and being a young man. He was doing good. ‘Specially at snowboarding, surfing and making twenty bucks last a month.
My daughter, naturally a bit more inclined to family and the ‘pack’ had a scholarship to York University in Ontario and, not in the least intimidated by the distance, eagerly headed east to further her education. Though the tentacles are still stretched thin-and-will-always-be-connected, she has been independent since 17.
The point: having your kids go ‘adult’ on you before the age of 19 is freeing but it comes with a ‘worry’ component. But we honestly didn’t worry too much. Having them successfully ‘go adult’ is quite a release of everyday responsibility but even that comes with a ‘stand-by’ mode attached. Our ‘stand-by’ role was rarely activated and never relied on.
Having established themselves as adults for a good long while is absolutely, positively liberating. You never stop being a parent but we are now very much free to also be ourselves again.
Their independence, competence, ability, health and sanity are a huge credit to them but they are also huge gifts to us. They allowed us to leave and do what we wanted to do.
We just had to figure out what that was.
But, of course, Sal was dragging her feet a smidge. To be fair, I was not putting much pressure on her. She was happy doing what she was doing and I didn’t really have any plans so what would be the point in pushing? I had no idea where to go or what to do next. It was mostly just ‘doing the next thing’ to see where that led me.
Well, I had an idea. But, honestly, I was not ready. Not even close. I didn’t know what we might get into. Not in the least. I was still trying to wrap my head around the process of leaving. I had not really addressed the issue of arriving somewhere else at all. There was a lot to think about. A lot of preparation.
And, of course, you never know what it is that you don’t know.
I had, admittedly, wandered through salvage yards and second hand stores, garage sales and recycling depots unconsciously picking up ‘finds’ and ‘treasures’ for a while. Maybe as long as a year or two. But, I had no plan. No shopping list. I was really in the day-dream stage still.
Whenever Sally would ask with a sigh and a tone of resignation, “OK, sweetie, what that hell is that for? What does it do? Why do we need it?” My usual answer was an embarrassed, “Well, I don’t know, actually. But I am sure it will come in handy. And it is cheap. I am only paying $40.00 for this old winch and I am sure that I’ll have to winch something someday. That’s what people do out in the bush!”
“Yep. All day long. I am sure of it. Winch, winch, winch.”
Our garage filled up. Our cul de sac runneth over. It was a great time of searching and finding things we had no previous idea even existed but that looked like things one might need. Someday. Maybe. To go with the winch, perhaps?
I distinctly recall the one night Sal arrived home late from work. It was pouring with rain. She was all dolled up and looking cute in her little business attire complete with fashionable briefcase. She came to the front door and called for me to get a coat and follow.
“It’s BIG garbage day in a few days, ya know? And people are putting junk out for the spring-cleaning collection. Some guy has a bunch of winches on his lawn! He’s throwing out winches! And there are lots! Big ones, small ones and a whole bunch with gears on them!” The rain was pouring down her face. her hair was plastered flat from being wet and the weather was fierce. She was excited and had a grin on her face. “C’mon!”.
We went down the street and, sure enough, there were a lot of geared winches on the lawn. We checked with the owner. They were free for the taking. From 1/2 horsepower to 5 hp. The ‘five’ weighed so much that Sal and I had to lift it together to get it into the trunk of her car. She was in a skirt and business shoes. Not easy. We took about eight or ten winches and then, soaking wet with the car dragging it’s rear end, we made our way home to the garage and unloaded our treasures.
I knew then that Sal was getting on-side even if we didn’t quite know what game we were going to play. It is great when a team starts to gell, isn’t it?