I think I’ve blown my husband’s mind. Scratch that. I know I’ve blown my husband’s mind. While out on a walk yesterday, we went past a house with a ‘for sale’ sign out in the front yard and I made a point to stop and collect one of the flyers that lists all of the information about the home (price, square footage, number of rooms, lot size, etc.). I was curious as to what houses are selling for in the area and was shocked when I discovered that there’s a very real possibility that if we sell our current home, we might actually be able to buy something outright with cash (here). The irony is, I swore I would never come back, NOT EVER. And yet, having this newfound knowledge is extremely motivating. I didn’t think I would ever reach a point where I’d own a house free and clear, but now that I am aware of this, I have done a complete 180. Think about it. If you could live without a house payment, wouldn’t you reconsider? Imagine all the money you’d have for ‘other things’. Oh my goodness, I can think of all kinds of ways I could ‘spend’ or ‘save’ that extra money in my pocket!
Why the change of heart? Well, stopping by that house with the ‘for sale’ sign certainly gave it momentum, but I’d already been ‘toying with the idea’ due to other experiences we’ve had since we arrived. So far, we’ve had the opportunity to meet up with two different couples over a meal, as well as one of our single friends, and have had the best time! Yes, there are (at minimum) two different husband/wife combos here that my husband and I both get along with. Since we moved away, I forgot what that was like. We have yet to find a single ‘compatible’ couple. We know very few people our own age, and that’s part of the problem. Most people that live where we currently own a home and live are 20-30 years older than us. As morbid as it sounds, many people move to our community knowing full well that it’s where they’re going to permanently ‘hang up their hat’. It’s the ‘last stop’ on life’s journey. For this reason, there are more elderly that live in our community than any other age category. There are also a record number of assisted-living and memory-care facilities.
You might as well call where we live ‘Death Valley’ because that’s what it essentially boils down to. As beautiful and affordable as it is, we have had little success in finding adequate companionship. When I say ‘we’, I primarily mean my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband but he needs ‘a buddy’ or two or three. A girl can only listen to someone talk about motorcycles and boats and kayaks and batteries for so long! When we lived where we are currently visiting, my husband had all sorts of ‘buddies’. The majority of them, actually all of them, he met through the military. We go ‘way back’ with most of these people. They’ve been in our lives for 20+ years. In our current community, there are a large number of former military. Here’s the thing. Apart from having ‘served’, there is little else they have in common with my husband. Most of them are World War II veterans and nearing the 100-year mark. Nothing against old people, I love old people! It’d just be nice to have friends slightly closer in age who don’t require the use of a walker to get around.
Anyway, back to the husband/wife combos whom we’ve known for several years. The first couple we met up with at a Mexican restaurant (for lunch). I haven’t seen the wife since we left seven years ago. Lunch was at one and do you want to know when we finally went our separate ways? Five o’clock! Yes, for nearly 4 hours solid, I chatted it up with the wife and my husband chatted it up with the husband. It was wonderful! As much as I ‘love’ hearing my husband discuss motorcycles, boats, kayaks, and batteries, it sure was nice to ‘hand the baton’ off to someone else for a change. And I really had the most delightful time hanging around people fun and familiar and our own age. The wife and I talked non-stop and when we eventually parted ways, my jaws were tired and my throat ached from talking so much. That never happens! That evening, we met up with a single friend of ours for dinner. My husband was actually his supervisor in the military and they were the best of friends. During the meal, I did less talking and more observing.
It was so gratifying watching my husband engage with yet another ‘old friend’. As I savored my French Dip sandwich and side salad, my husband and his dear friend talked at length about dozens of topics. After the meal was over and ‘bro’ hugs were exchanged, we retreated to our car. My husband couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He shared that he’d had a fantastic time ‘reconnecting’ and acknowledged how much he missed it. The following evening, we got an opportunity to do it yet again! This time, it was with another husband/wife combo. The husband was an officer and happened to be my husband’s supervisor when he was in the military. Both the husband and wife are two of the sweetest people we have ever met. They kind of crack me up because they are both ‘straight arrows’, you’ll never hear a swear word come from either of their mouths. However, even though I’ve only heard them use words such as ‘heck’, ‘gosh darn it’, and ‘shoot’, they don’t give me a bad time for saying ‘the real thing’. There is never any judgment. And just like the couple we met up with the previous day, we had a delightful time.
Of course, I realize that ‘vacation mode’ is very different from reality and if we move back, I cannot have the expectation that we’ll be meeting up with different couples for game nights or dinners on a daily or even weekly basis. Whether it’s once a month or once every two months or even once every three months, it’s still better than ‘never’. Having said all that, I haven’t even disclosed that we still have three more ‘dates’ scheduled in the coming days. Tomorrow, my husband and I are going to meet up with my old boss and his fiancée for dinner, and then immediately afterward, we’re meeting up with another mutual friend (who happens to be single presently) for a fun night at a festival downtown. The following day, we’ve got another lunch date scheduled. This time, it’ll be with one of my dearest friends (who just happens to be one of my former bosses). Out of all the ‘dates’, this one I’m looking forward to the most. Not only are we meeting up with my favorite person, we’re also going to our favorite Chinese restaurant (something our current community is sorely lacking in).
Another reason coming back would be ‘worthwhile’? When I left (seven years ago), I was 3 months shy or short of being ‘vested’. I needed to complete 5 years of working full-time in order to do so and I only worked 4 years and 9 months. If we return and I can get hired back with my former employer, all I need to do is complete 3 months and then I’ll have fulfilled the requirements. It would make a huge difference in when I’m eligible to receive my retirement benefits. The other ‘worthwhile’ reason is our youngest son (who lives in the area). This reason probably surpasses all of the others, if I’m being honest. We’ve already managed to meet up 3 times and still have more plans to get together before we leave. I always enjoy his company. Today, we went to the Botanic Gardens and then he had us come back to his apartment where he treated us to a homemade dinner. I know, I know…I’ve really only focused on the ‘upside’ of returning and haven’t really considered all the reasons why it would be a bad idea. As I stated the other day, there are plenty of ghosts. When I say plenty, there are easily enough to fill all the seats in a large school bus. That’s a lot of ghosts, my friends!
The other critical piece to consider is whether my husband and I even have the energy to make it happen. Moving all of our crap across the country is going to take everything we’ve got and then some. But we have managed to put a plan in place. After much discussion, we have decided that upon our return, we are going to walk through the house and write down everything we need to finish. Once the list is complete, we are going to work towards marking each item off the list. When the last item is marked off, we’re going to put the house on the market and see what happens. If we are made an offer that will allow us to net enough in order to buy a house outright (here), we’ll proceed with the move. If we don’t get a satisfactory offer, we’re going to stay put. Either way, whatever effort made or energy expended towards the home improvements will only serve to benefit us. My husband suspects that my enthusiasm will dwindle once we return home, especially after we finish walking through the house and writing down everything we need to do. He’s probably right, he usually is. I am a Pisces, after all, and am known for changing my mind. Still, the move could happen. Anything is possible, right?