Our empty nest status is official. The last girl is gone, married and nesting in her own home. Our oldest is rooted in her town with husband, house and cats. Our unofficial foster is in an apartment and making her own way. We’re really, really on our own. To that end changes are a’ comin. The wedding pics were fabulous and the bulbs I found at the Chicago Botanic Garden are awaiting their call to bloom, all is right with the world.
One of the things that’s emerged in the past year is a new vocalness in Bruce. He turned 60 this May. 60 is the new 40 so I hear, (please tell it to my body) and he’s embracing it with vigor. Bruce’s take? “You know what’s good about this is 70 will be the new 30”, Brucemath should replace Common Core (and he’ll gladly tell you that). He’s also working for a company that treats him like a valuable human being vs a worker drone that needs abusing until it’s kaput. Both of these milestones have given him a sense of himself that have made him even more comfortable in his skin than he’s previously known. Refreshing? Okay-sure, let’s go with that.
We discuss everything together and always have. Both of us love history, politics, movies, television, books and music (though I’m the Queen of Pop and he’s a snob). We both enjoy exploring new places even if we argue about how to arrive there. We both enjoy working around the house and in the yard, though his ambitions exceed his abilities, always have. And we both enjoy spending time with our kids, their spouses and our friends. I have some hobbies, his is me (the pressure is overwhelming). I worry about most everything, he plans his future into his 90’s. I’m a “But what if you die?” kind of gal, he’s a “Hey I can remodel the house in a week” kind of guy. We complement each other.
An undiscovered area of disagreement between us that has risen in recent years is travel. In the past vacations were sparse, untaken (you don’t even want to how much time was left on the table at previous jobs) or comprised of visits to family, staycations and always spontaneous (not in a good way). We’re fantastic at road trips, we rock’em. Snacks, music, books on tape, long conversations, phone calls–the car is like a second home when we’re together. But the airport…not so much. For me, a vacation begins the morning I get up to go to my destination and I really, really, really, don’t want to spend 3 hours in an airport waiting for my flight. For Bruce, vacation doesn’t begin till he picks up the rental car…
He paces and orders Uber 4hrs before a flight, insists I be ready 30 minutes before they arrive, chews his nails and sighs. I finish my makeup with 10 minutes to spare and zip up my suitcase as I’m ready to walk out the door. He plans enough time for an overpriced meal at one of the terminal restaurants, I’d rather eat someplace outside the airport and arrive later. Making our way to the gate he walks too fast, uses the men’s room too early, (insists I use mine too), herds me away from the magazine rack, lines up to board 20 minutes before required, and irritates the hell out of me. I laugh at him and we sulk during the flight. As we pick up our rental car I like to peruse options, he grabs the first one available. He’s always in a hurry to get somewhere, I’m usually ready to take my time and do a little stretching. He nags, I whine…Happy Vacation to US! (all for your entertainment).
But now, we come to our current status as official Empty Nesters. What are we going to do, where are we going to live, how are we going to define ourselves now that the girls are launched? For awhile we thought of lavender farming–HA! Moving out of state to save on the ridiculous IL property taxes was also on the table. Planning for retirement is included in our thoughts but it’s not primary. Finding our purpose is what we seek. As much as we’ll adore and love our future grandkids, living for them isn’t on our list of goals and aspirations. We’ve always felt there was a purpose to our lives beyond the expected “Marry, breed, raise, launch and enjoy” cadence so prevalent in society. Bruce’s new vocalness has added another take, “I don’t want to rot in a recliner while waiting for death”. You get the picture.
I think we’ve found the start of it. 2 yrs ago we found a church home, something we’d gone without for 12 yrs (previously discussed) and we love it. My self-doubt put this to the test a couple of Sundays ago when I visited a different church closer to home. Couldn’t do it, left during worship feeling chastised; “I found you a church Cinda, quit questioning it” said the voice from above. However, our beloved church is 30+ miles away and more minutes from our home. Moving seemed out of the question until some peace-like decisions landed on us. Renting downtown and renting our home in the burbs…simple and clean. And yep, we found a home downtown last week AND we were offered a 2 car garage, unheard of in the city. Next-finding a renter for our home, one we are as excited about renting to as our landlords seem to be about renting to us. I have every confidence that they are out there, timing is everything.
We’re excited, our kids are excited. Our friends are excited and happy for us and we’re overwhelmed at the outpouring of encouragement and support we’ve received. It will be a first for both of us, neither of us have ever lived in a big city (Portland OR doesn’t count). We expect the challenges and hope for some good surprises. No matter the outcome we know it’s all in God’s hands and at his direction. The peace we’ve found in the decision is enough.
I’ll miss seeing those beautiful bulbs bloom…but, moving day, here we come!