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.