Barbara and I can confirm that disruption is the key to renewal. In our case at least, that has proven true. A few years ago, we operated a small business near Philadelphia, PA, and paid a mortgage on a home nearby. In 2008, what many refer to as the Great Recession hit.
We owned and operated a couple of ballroom dance schools, which depend for their success on people having disposable income. Within months, half our students lost their jobs. The universe of people who could afford dance lessons grew steadily smaller. We held on for three of those years and finally threw in the towel. To pay our debts, including the mortgage and a business loan, we sold the house and just about everything else we owned.
We pretty much lost all our anchors, which led to a discovery. Anchors not only help you stay where you are; they also make you stay where you are. The anchors we lost were mostly the financial goalposts of middle class life. What we got in return was freedom.
Once we had gotten rid of everything, we realized we liked it that way. House, furniture, utensils, keepsakes, all the paraphernalia of an in-place lifestyle. We were no longer responsible for those things. We didn’t have to carry them, store them, protect them. We were no longer defined by them. We could go anywhere we chose without dragging them along..
For a time, we chose Colorado. When all this happened, my father was just going into assisted living. The condominium he lived in was now vacant. So, we moved in. A house in Pennsylvania and then a condo in Denver. It seems appropriate at this point to reference the old cliche about one door closing and another opening. It really does happen.
We drove across country pulling a small rented trailer containing all our remaining possessions. The modern version of the Westward Trek. Since the early years of the 19th century, Americans have gone West to start over. In a sense, we were following in their footsteps.
From our balcony, we can see the Rocky Mountains. There can’t be a more radical change in landscapes between Colorado and Pennsylvania. Denver sits on what is euphemistically referred to as short grass prairie. In reality, it’s a desert, shadowed by the sovereign expanse of the Rockies. Again, I’m reminded of the pioneers trudging along debating with themselves day by day, whether the mountains will ever get any closer.
We’ve never intended to stay in Denver. The experience of the last few years, including relocating to this part of the country, has gotten us used to the idea of change. Coming here got us moving, and movement can be addictive. Once you’ve done it, it isn’t long before you’re ready to do it again.
I recently retired, and we’re fortunate to have retirement accounts we managed to hang onto after everything else was gone. We want to see new sights, experience a different lifestyle, and perhaps most of all meet new people who think a different way and look at the world with a different perspective.
So, we’re going to move to another country. We want to hear another language, eat a different cuisine, see the culture and history of another part of the world while seeing our own country from a different point of view. It doesn’t hurt that we can also take advantage of a less expensive cost of living.
We’ve decided to try Portugal. It has everything we want to try: a rich history, beautiful country, the ocean outside our doorstep, access to all the great cities of Europe, a favorable exchange rate and cheaper prices. We also have an aquaintance there who can help us get settled.
We have no idea how long we’ll be there or where we might go afterwards. We’re just going to go for awhile and see how we like it. Mostly because we can. After that, we’ll see.