We’ve been throwing around the idea of a trip to the West Coast. It sounded like fun for a while. But now that our taxes are filed and I had the time to think about the trip without the sword of Damacles over my head (as in “I still have taxes to file.”) we’ve come to the decision that we’re going to hang out here for a while longer.
This is an earth shattering decision for us. I don’t “give up” on the idea of travel very easily. I have worked out several routes, with places to stay and things to do, all I’d have to do is actually make the reservations — the work is done. But the fact of the matter is we are still having a better time going (relatively) nowhere than we think we’d have if we travelled. I can’t believe I’m even saying those words.
My father-in-law never wanted to be gone from home for more than three nights. I’m not sure what was so magical about the number 3 but his resistance to any stay longer than that was quite marked. My own father, on the other hand, was completely the opposite. He was up for any trip, any time, anywhere (so long as it was on this continent and didn’t involve airplanes). When I was 4 or 5 we took a family vacation to Florida and my maternal grandmother came along with us. While there my parents flew off to Havana in a DC-3 for a couple nights and grandma stayed with me at some non-descript hotel in South Florida. Ever after that dad was NOT keen on flying. I’m not particularly fond of it either but my reservations have to do with the fact that at my SIZE I don’t easily fit into airline seats, and I hate being treated like cattle — which is about my opinion of modern day airports. I admit that I would sort-of-like-to visit Europe again — but the idea of being squeezed into a sardine can to get there is almost enough to hold me back. We’ll see how long my reluctance lasts.
There are a lot of things we want to explore in Wisconsin this year so I’m not bemoaning the idea that we aren’t going to do anything, or that we’ll be bored. Boredom isn’t anything that happens to me; I always have things I’m interested in. It simply seems as if after 6 years of travel, that travel is (for now) not one of them. I know that must sound insane to someone who longs to travel. But there are multiple sides to everything.
For example, for years I had to travel for work. Peg had her office job. I always seemed to have the jobs that kept me out of an office and on the road, or visiting people. I have stayed in way too many hotels and spent too many night in lonely hotel rooms — so much so that even at home I automatically turn on the TV or my iPod for the sound of human voices, human activity. Even now! I got to the point when I was working that the idea of NOT having to leave town was delightful; no suitcases to carry, no strangers to have to talk with, no bad meals in overpriced restaurants.
Nowadays it’s a luxury to be able to just stay home. It’s not an attitude born out of boredom with travel; it’s about balance. I’ve done that; I want to do something else now; or do the same thing at a different pace, or for a different reason, or with a different result.
Have you ever noticed how people — most of us anyway — seem to focus in on the things we don’t get to define the things we want most? When you have to work in an office the idea of going places is a real thrill. When you have to go-go-go all the time, staying put is to be desired. Finding contentment in what a person has is a fairly rare commodity.
I do think our present location has a lot to do with my attitude right now. For 35 years we lived in a family owned apartment complex and none of the several generations really “loved” the building — we were there because it made sense to be “with” family. We all had our own apartments; a certain amount of privacy; a certain amount of companionship — but it was never “where we wanted to be.” We owned two homes after that: both for a space of around 7 years. We thought both of those were going to be “our place.” Truth was that not all that long after moving in we realized that those places were never going to be “our place” — they were always going to be just another house. We came closer when we owned the old school building. That allowed work and play to take place in the same location. We had enough space outside for active gardening. We had enough space inside for work and for relaxation. But we had been overly optimistic about what we could sustain and we quickly realized that it was a nice place to live while we were still able bodied, but it would quickly become too much house as we aged.
I have spoken several times about the place we’re in right now. To many it may seem like touring (in person) only 2 apartments was a snap decsision, but I had looked (online) as a hundred or so. We know what the Milwaukee market is like. There were no surprised and we ticked off more boxes with this apartment than we’d ever ticked off in our 49 years together. So, being content has a lot to do with why we feel no compelling urge to travel.
Over the winter I have read blog entries by friends who were planning their summer trips, or getting ready to leave their winter destinations, even one from a couple that’s looking to sell their RV and find a mobile home. In my present state of mind those blogs seem a million miles away. I have switched out of that planning mode. And I don’t miss it. Even Peggy said this morning (on our way to the doctor for an EKG) that the one thing she likes most about retirement is not-having-to-be-on-time — which isn’t so much about being punctual as it is about not having to live by a clock making appointments and making schedules.
I keep finding myself surprised that we aren’t chomping at the bit. The Peter I know best isn’t like the Peter I find myself living with. I don’t mind the change; but I am surprised by it.