At home near Fort Worth, Texas...
Mindy and the grands left us after a week of fun, frolic and good food. We already miss them, as the house is now disturbingly quiet and yes, a bit lonely. As I write this, a clock on my desk is making a muffled click at the passing of each second. This sound has been completely inaudible for the past week, mercifully drowned out by the wonderful cacophony of laughter punctuated by squeals and shrieks of the boys at play. To say that we miss that is an understatement.
However, the quietness facilitates reflecting on my first year of retirement; it hardly seems it has been a year since that blessed event! In a post to this blog on July 7th, 2013, I mentioned that Sandy and I were likely going to be part timers rather than full timers and, sure enough, that's how it turned out. It doesn't look like that's going to change, barring some unforeseen calamity. Here is a little insight to our considerations, concerns and evolution as we look back on retirement year one:
We were financially prepared, after all. I guess most people who retire wonder about this before they finally pull the plug. I suppose most RVers' decisions to go full time are largely driven by their budget. For many, shedding the expense of maintaining a stick and brick house is the only way to free up the required funds to wander freely about the country. Looking back at our first year's financials gives me some confidence that we will not have to do that, although the costs involved in maintaining our stick and brick home and traveling in a motorhome are somewhat daunting. (Because of my upbringing, I am not comfortable in sharing actual money figures, but suffice it to say that the expense is formidable, at least for us. Culture alert: In the south, discussing one's personal finances is generally considered unseemly, unless one has had a few mint juleps.)
As part timers, we sacrifice some freedom and peace of mind. If I were asked to name the best rationale for jettisoning one's house, this would be it. When we are away in Phannie, there is rarely a day when I don't think about the house and perhaps take a look at the perimeter camera feeds on my cell phone to see if all is as it should be. The burglary we experienced a couple of years ago didn't help in my worrying about the place. I'm not even comforted by the new state-of-the-art security system, knowing that even if instantly notified by e-mail of a tripped alarm, there is nothing I can do from halfway across the country except watch the thieves look into the cameras as they steal our stuff and leave before the police can respond.
On a positive note, I don't have to worry much about the yard or the household systems. The yard is xeriscaped, so there is no upkeep there and, since the house is relatively new, the need for maintenance is almost nonexistent. I'm not sure what more we can do to secure the place.
The bottom line: We don't like our constant fretting over what's going on at home, but I suppose we'll just have to deal with it. (Fulltimers are entitled to smile smugly when reading this.)
We still have excess 'stuff.' When we downsized from the big house to our now smaller one, we got rid of a lot of stuff--so much so that we still have some empty cabinets in the new house! That being said, we still cannot imagine how we would pare down enough of what's left to live solely in Phannie's 350 square feet. I know it is done all the time, but I'm afraid we would need a degree of inspiration that we don't currently possess.
We don't think we would do 'loss of community' very well. There are some folks (Sandy more so, me less so) who cannot imagine being "homeless." For them, an RV could never be thought of as a home. They'll tell you that homes do not move about the country; they must remain in place so Santa can find them! For people who love a routine in their lives, it is especially difficult to abandon the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar. For them, the prospect of wandering around the country and making exciting new discoveries does not outweigh the loss of belonging they would have in the social structure of home, family, friends, church and all that constitutes their roots. I get that, and I must confess that I enjoy it too. (Sandy, however, thrives on it; I think that's why more people like her better.)
We are all about compromise. As our lifestyle is now, I get the extended trips I love without a detailed itinerary or restriction on length of stay and Sandy--who also enjoys our travels--gets to come home and plug in again. In the past year, we were actually at home more than we were away. So, I would call that a nice compromise. (Usually, my compromising means just doing it her way, but I'm not complaining; it has worked wonderfully for 38 years.)