Reflections on this pair of vagabonds...One year ago...Istanbul, Turkey...Political unrest...

Christmas holly growing wild on a hillside.
On many occasions, deep in thought, our eyes locked, knowing that we're thinking the same thoughts.  How did we get here?  How were we able to leave our family to live this dream that we didn't know we had until 11 months before Tom retired?

At the end of this month it will be 20 months since we left Minnesota; for Tom, a lifelong resident; for me, 42 years.  For both of us we loved our state with it's long frozen snowy winters and fleeting stormy summers. 

It's not easy to explain.  We grasp for answers from time to time; the cold winters, the growing traffic rates, the unstable politics (where isn't that an issue?), high state taxes zapping our retirement income.  These seem to be logical answers. 

Two baby goats that live next door. Look at those cute white ears! 
Many retired Minnesotans leave for warmer climates heading to Florida, Arizona or Texas, buying a condo in a retirement community, making new friends and finding a degree of contentment that fulfils their goals for their golden years. We appreciate this perspective.  It just couldn't have been us.

Perhaps, this wanderlust has something to do with the fact that we each had our first child when we were still children ourselves, Tom at 17, me at 19.  Our 20's zoomed past us with rampant responsibility.  I was divorced at 26.  Tom, at 36. 

Mom of the two above kids.
When we met in 1991, Tom was 38, I was 43.  Where did the years go?  Four years later we were married, so happy that we rarely took a vacation over the next 22 years, with only a desire for the "staycation" to be close to family and friends when we had time off. 

We loved our home, our neighbors, our friends and visits from our kids, grandkids and other family members.  And then, in January 2012, as we sat in our comfy chairs on a crisp sunny Sunday morning drinking coffee, I asked Tom, who's retirement was 11 months away at that point, "What do you want us to do when you retire?"

A vine covered wall near our house.
He paused thinking of an answer, suddenly blurting out, "Let's travel the world!"

I laughed.  "You don't mean that," I replied looking at him quizzically, wondering what had gotten into him.  Did he, who seldom drinks alcohol at home, spike his morning coffee with Courvoisier?

At dusk the lights illuminate the island.
"I do,"  he replied. "Let's do it!"

"Let me research this for a week.  Do the math.  See if we can make it work."  I responded tempering my enthusiasm, thinking it was more of a whim than a possibility.  I'd retired a few years earlier.  I had all the time in the world.

Tom got excited about this 1947 Chevy parked at the local market.
The following weekend my well prepared spreadsheet was completed with the assumption that if we sold and unloaded everything that we owned; house, cars, furnishings and all household goods leaving no monthly storage bill behind, we could do it.  We decided that day. For how long?  We didn't know.

The remaining months of putting our plan into action is now a blur of the sorrowful letting go of those we love and of all the "things" we so treasured and held close to our hearts.  (If you're interested in reading about the disposition of all of our world goods during that painful process, you can go the "PREVIOUS POSTS" and scroll down and click on 2012 to begin reading there).

What a view!
Our grown kids and their families had built their own traditions and lifestyles.  They would do fine without us. With face time on Skype, daily photos and interactions on Facebook it wouldn't feel as if we were so far away. And yes, of course we would miss them all. 

But, somehow, we wanted to do this, we needed to do this for ourselves, whom we'd pampered so little over the years while wrapped around the concept of "doing for others" as opposed to ourselves. The time had come.

Although we can't see the sun when its setting, we always get a glimpse of the colors over the ocean.
Selfish?  Sure. Could a lifetime of responsibility beginning at such an early age, have contributed to our decision?  Sure.  Is selfishness dishonorable when the clock seems to be ticking faster than ever and one merely want to "live life to its fullest?" 

We bear no guilt or regret. In a mere six months, our children and grandchildren will be in Hawaii with us. It will have been 26 months since we've seen them but only a few days since we've been in touch. 

Tom's photos as dusk.
It will be all be OK. In fact, we expect it will be wonderful as it always was when we were all together, our blended family, all laughing and talking at the same time with fun kid noises wafting through the air.

And for us, we're happy.  A few nights ago, my sister asked if we were lonely with no English speaking people with whom to interact.  We're not.  Not at all.  We laugh, we talk, we tease and we're playful.  We finish each others thoughts and statements as long time couples often do.

Unusual plant we found while driving in the hills.
At times, we're even romantic, standing on the veranda arms wrapped around each other, gazing at the sea, the colors in the sky at sunset, the developing moon and the breathtaking beauty surrounding us. 

Most of all, wherever we may be, on this journey with no end in mind, we are home.  And that, dear readers, is exactly where we want to be.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2013:

Our ship docked in Istanbul ,Turkey for the day.  At that time there were riots and political unrest in Istanbul so we decided to stay on the ship, taking photo from afar.  The next day we were headed to Izmir, Turkey for an excursion to Ephasus leaving us content to stay onboard for the day, as many other cruisers chose to do as well.  For details of that date, please click here.

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