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Welcome to The World in Between. My name is Julie. For thirty two years I lived a conventional life: wife, mother, employee, cook, homework drill sergeant…. Life was good.

Then the nest emptied. And just like that my husband, Pat, and I were back to only us. Retirement was looming. And while I was mentally ready, we had built up a huge life that needed to be disassembled first.

I could pick two of three options:

  • Retire young
  • Keep my house
  • Aggressively travel

The house had to go. Fortunately, Pat agreed.

In 2011, the year after our youngest entered college, my manager asked me to move to Bratislava, Slovakia for work. We signed up sight unseen. Slovakia is in Europe, right? What could go wrong? Eighteen months later, we moved to Budapest, Hungary for two years.

During this time we sold almost everything back in Colorado: our too big house, our cars, and most of our possessions. The dog bonded with a new master. And I started this blog to share our new next act with anyone interested. These are my stories; everything from downsizing to growing older to drinking shots of palinka with friends at a pig killing on a rural Hungarian farm.

After two years in Hungary, we returned to the United States where I retired at the relatively young age of 57. We got rid of our storage unit and set off for a life unencumbered by things.

Bolstered by our knowledge of how to deal with situations in foreign places, we decided to take to the road full time. Our first stop? Three months nestled into a 270 square foot apartment in Paris. There, I took a month-long creative writing class where I was twenty years older than the rest of the class. I had a blast.

From Paris, we spent time near my mother-in-law in Northern Michigan,  ate our way through Northern California, wintered in Guatemala, and summered in Ireland. We have salsa danced in Cuba and tasted wine in Bosnia. Part of retiring early is living frugally, but as a publican in England told me, “That’s really the only way to know a country, right? On the cheap.” And yes, I believe he’s right.

We don’t dash about. Instead, we live in a series of places, find a breakfast spot where I can order “the usual”, learn the culture and history, and take a cooking class to master at least one local dish. We wander; I write; Pat takes photos; and then we move on.

Sometimes we return to the United States to recharge and visit with friends and family. Home is an elusive concept, but at its heart, home will always be home.

The World in Between denotes this phase of our lives as I break free from the nine to five existence which had come to define me and catapult into a world constrained only by the limits of my imagination. Millions of us are faced with this life transition. This blog is for everyone who still aspires to fulfill their most elusive dreams.

Mine is to write a book; a memoir of our times living here and there. Yours may be to open a goat cheese farm or play the piano professionally or open a surf shop. It’s time.

That’s it. That is my blog. Our three grown kids are back home wondering how and when this will all end…. Frankly, so am I.

I hope you stick around. If so, please, hit the “follow” button. If not, I’m glad we met.

Julie

 

 

7 replies

  1. . Enjoyed your John Morris piece, ( I had my overwhelmed by JM moment when he brpught his book tour to Greece a few years past) and your Paris moment. wished we could have met by chance somewhere in Marais during our stay there December 17 to 24. Too many other overlaps tho make this as improbable as it might otherwise seem As another mass-expat, living in Greece since forever, trying to create a life and a place where creativity and survival support each other..our paths seem to be closer than most. Bratislava? Not on my short list. Yet. Sofia? Could be if you’re routes pass through Athens or Mykonos or just the blogosphere…

    • Small world.. I just told my husband, maybe we should consider Crete next. I’m been reading Gerald Durrell (My Family and Other Animals)… and his life in Corfu is captivating. You never know when our paths may cross. Keep in touch. Julie

  2. Hi, Julie,

    Thank you very much for your blog. I spent some evenings reading almost all your interesting articles on Slovakia. I will read others when I have time, looks very attractive as well. The photos inside your blog are very beautiful.
    I am so sorry that the police didn’t treat your nicely. But when I read that you have already made Bratislava home I smiled. Great! Congratulations! I have been living in Bratislava for 16 years, at the beginning it was very difficult… language barrier and other difficultis… but now I love this little big city! I hope you enjoy your life in Bratislava and wish to read more of your fantastic stories about the people, life and places of this lovely country. Who knows, maybe you would change your idea to move on and on and settle down here instead. And let the strong wind blows! Kindest regards, Paul

    • Hi Paul… It is a great little city, isn’t it?. The wind might blow – but sometimes you end up back where you started… And that could well happen with us… Julie
      And the police station is trying, but not so bad!

  3. Oh, yes, it is indeed a great little place I just adore. Nomatter where your are I wish you happiness.
    Yes, the police is trying, but too slowly in my opinion. But I know It is a very young country. Paul

  4. Where exactly is Igors music shop.l’m planning a day trip to Bratislava and would love to visit it.

    • Hi… Igor just took a leadership job in the Slovak cultural agency promoting Slovak music. His wife, Vlasta, is running the shop.

      Walk Kapitulska street from St. Martin’s to the end. When it deadends, turn right. Igors shop (the music forum) is immediately on the right.

      Now that Igor is not there, it’s a bit less of a gathering spot. But Kapitulska is my favorite street in town. And Vlasta is a sweet woman (but not as perfectly fluent in English as Igor).

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