happy birthday to me: retirement vs travel edition

Today I have been alive on this planet for 63 years. 

Last year I shared thoughts on aging and mortality. It was a popular post that resonated with many readers. Predictably -- and in keeping with that theme -- the next birthday came around in lightning speed.

When we're kids, it seems ages between birthdays, or summers, or first days of school. Now the years whip by. We find ourselves incredulous at how much time has passed -- how old kids and dogs are, how long we've known each other, how long we've lived in a house, or have worked in our jobs. Everyone I know experiences this. Time is just moving too quickly.

And apparently I am now a senior! Or an "older adult". In an email exchange, an activist called me an elder. I'm not ready for that!

I am spending a lot of time doing retirement planning. The big news, for us, is that there actually will be a retirement (inshallah). I never thought we'd be able to stop working: I always referred to our "retirement savings" with air quotes. But now it looks like we'll be able to make it work. A quiet, small retirement, for sure, and it's 10 or 12 years away, but still. It feels like a huge accomplishment for people who didn't go the traditional career route until later in life. 

Because retirement will be small and quiet -- and short of winning the lottery, will not include travel -- there are a few trips I still want to make while we're working. That's the central tension: I want to make sure retirement happens and I still want to travel. 

When we moved to Vancouver Island, I said we wouldn't travel except to see friends and family for five years, and we'd see how that went. That worked out beautifully, taking us to Southern Oregon, the Bay Area, California's Lost Coast, Portland, and Seattle. This was supplemented by occasionally visits to my remote library branches, trips "down island" or to the lower mainland for work or union (although, sadly, not happening as frequently post-covid), and a bit of island exploring. Now those five years are up, and I'm restless to plan again. 

My need to travel is like a hunger. If we go on a big, special trip, that will satisfy me for a long time. It's like a huge, filling meal, and I'm good for a year or more. When we go on short trips -- it doesn't even matter where, just that I go -- it satisfies that same need, but for a shorter amount of time. And although I'm grateful for the travel we've done, it has never been close to how much I've wanted.  

If we stay healthy and things pan out, I'll be able to deal with a retirement without travel. But until then, I can't give it up. Not sure how this will work, but I'm going to try.


Amy said...

First of all, happy birthday again! I hope it was a good one.

I get the tug you are feeling between travel and retirement. Before Covid we were on a great travel roll. We would alternate between an international trip one year and then a US trip the next year. Covid put a halt on that, and then we moved to the Cape in 2022 and had no time or money for travel except to Florida and to see our kids in NY. Aside from a conference in TO in 2022, we haven't left the US. Maybe we will again, but with Harvey retiring in 2025, it's hard to know.

laura k said...

So Harvey is finally retiring. Well done. Congratulations to him!

Our (remaining) travel is within the US and Canada. But it will be just as expensive as traveling anywhere else.

Amy said...

Harvey retired from teaching over a year ago but continues to do labor arbitration. He has decided that he will stop that at the end of 2025. So we are still a year and a half away from him really being retired.

laura k said...

Right, now I remember he was in some kind of almost-retirement. It's great there is a target date. I'm honing in on mine now. Age 70 at the earliest, 72 or 73 at the latest. Assuming health, etc.

Amy said...

Harvey will be almost 72 when he retires. I was a year 62 when I did. No regrets about that! 🤣

Amy said...

That should’ve said a “mere” 62. I have to dictate to do these comments because I broke my wrist and can’t type. Such a drag… And Apple can’t seem to understand some of my words!

laura k said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear that. Wishing you speedy and full healing.

Amy said...

Thank you!