There will be no Disney visits until the "blockout dates" on our seasonal passes end in mid-August. Time to focus on the rest of my life.
I've been staring down the barrel of my 57th birthday for a few weeks now. I'm not traumatized, just...thoughtful. 57 seems very, um, mature? I'm actually thinking about where I want to be and how I want to live as an old lady, because while I am firmly in denial that I am old now, I will concede that I'm going to be, someday, if I'm lucky.
I don't fear aging. I've known too many people who didn't get to do it, and came damn close to not hitting this birthday myself. I also know my own financial situation, and know that I'll be working, well, forever. I don't want to grow old at the house factory. I also know that finding work gets harder with every passing year, and I can't expect my insane "get a job with a text message" experience to ever happen again. I'm grateful for what I have, but I can't see myself doing what I'm doing in five years, or even three. I need to put some serious thought into transitioning to my long term future.
I spent a lot of money a few years ago, on a dramatic and impulsive move to Asheville. I don't regret it! It was a good time, and a time I really needed. But yeah, I was stupid and short-sighted in a few ways. I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to earn a living there (my Florida development resume isn't very transferrable to anything else). I was all high spirits and wishful thinking, and I just wanted to run away for a while and be somewhere else, so I did it, consequences be damned.
I'm fortunate that I came back and landed on my feet again, older, wiser, and definitely poorer, but able to start over yet again. But now I'm back in the same long-commute-to-a-soul-killing-job trap I'd run from screaming a few years ago, and the thought of sitting in that office doing what I'm doing for the rest of my working life is incredibly depressing.
But as I said, I'm older, poorer, and wiser. I've had an epiphany in the last few weeks, when I realized that there are places near here that are cheaper to live and have the atmosphere I'm seeking: a slower pace and more charm.
My dream home in Asheville was a 20s era house, livably updated and walking distance to a coffee shop and a quaint downtown. I've been haunting real estate websites in my spare time, and realized that DUUH, I could find those things Half an hour from here across the St. Johns River. I've been stalking houses in DeLand online for a couple of weeks now, and tomorrow I'm going to do a drive-by of a couple I truly love. House prices are a lot cheaper, and houses have character. There's a downtown, not just a series of shopping centers. It's closer to the beach, yet still within a reasonable commute of the major office parks around Heathrow/Lake Mary. This could be the landing place I thought I'd find in AVL.
This is just a preliminary recon mission. I'm not moving anywhere for a while - maybe in a year or so - but my chores are done and I have some time, and I want to satisfy my own curiousity. I'm taking Sophie with me. She needs a car trip that doesn't end with a butt squeeze at the vet, because at this point all car trips end badly for her. This one will end with a walk and a treat in a new place. (Murphy will stay here and sleep. He's still doing okay, but I'm not kidding myself that he would enjoy being dragged out of his bed.) I'm not sharing any links to houses for practical reasons; they go under contract all the time, so whatever I link to will be a dead link in days. I'm not buying my dream house this weekend, I'm just getting a feel for the location. If it's not what I've heard it is, I will regroup.
And meanwhile, brace yourself for a blast of bragging about the fabulous kids who at this rate will be supporting me in my old age (as I tell them three times a week). My son's business, already in the top 5 of food and drink things in Asheville on Trip Advisor, just got a Certificate of Excellence. I knew from when he was very young that he'd be a fabulous teacher; I was kinda thinking high school social studies or history. Fortunately, he found something much more fun that pays much better.
And it's official as of this week: my daughter is transitioning to independent contractor in her field; the money is much better and she's also damn good at what she does. So good, in fact, that her previous employer didn't want to lose her and wants her to stay on part time, doing things that won't involve driving all over like a long distance trucker.
Both my kids are hitting their professional stride in this modern world: find a niche and cultivate multiple income streams based on what you do. Once upon a time, independent contractor and self employed was a frightening and risky track compared to the security of working for a "good employer." Having had a few "good employers" shot out from under me in the last decade and a half, and others turn out to be all smoke and mirrors and bullshit, I am very glad that they have figured this out in their 30s. They'll be able to support me in my old age. ;-)