By John Andola
May 15, 2018 — Just days from my 80th birthday, I am engaging in a major life style change. One that brings both serious stress for the present and potential promise for the future. Leaving our rental house of seven years and ridding our lives of tangible connections with past life, George and I are embarking on an adventure that will literally bring us to the next chapter in our lives. Literally, because we have commissioned the building of a new boat which we will live aboard full time, and that we have named Next Chapter.
At 35 feet, Next Chapter is ten feet longer than our treasured Grumpy Old Men, which we hope to sell within the next couple of months. But more about the new boat at a later posting. Here the focus is on the physical and mental transition through several stages that will lead us to a different life style.
Collecting is easy – deacquisitioning another thing
It’s amazing how much “stuff” one can collect over the years. Some of that stuff is simply necessary to function comfortably in daily life, some is cherished for its sentimentality, some for its historic or artistic value, some because it relates to family or personal history, and some just because it seems to cling to us like a rash.
That said, it is difficult to part with all the things that have in some way defined our life. Getting rid of this stuff is not easy; we didn’t realize how emotionally attached we have become to the items which surround us every day. Some of the most difficult items to leave behind are those things that were given to us by a close friend or a treasured relative, especially if that friend or relative is no longer with us.
Something amazing happens when we finally walk away from one of those cherished items: it’s as if a weight is lifted from our shoulders. Magically, getting rid of the next item becomes just a bit easier. When all these decisions about what few things we will keep and what things we will leave behind are made, it’s like a breath of fresh air. We feel free to go forward focused on a new life without the weight of the past holding us back.
The estate sale took place about a week ago. We left our house holding on to just a few treasured items, and began our trek from Key West to Cape Cod, visiting friends and relatives along the way. Our first stop was in Gainesville to meet with the boat manufacturer to check on the progress of Next Chapter and to make some last minute decisions about just how the construction would go forward.
Where to live next
We have several friends who have either recently moved into retirement facilities or are researching such a move. While in Gainesville we also met with our friends Rosalee and Bud who recently took up residence in an upscale senior facility in that town, Oak Hammock, a CCRC affiliated with the University of Florida. (Rosalee describes her new residence as “a resort for senior citizens”). They, like so many of our friends (and us as well), are venturing to another stage of life. Rosalee and Bud, however, took most of their belongings with them, since they moved into a rather large two-bedroom 1900 square foot condo. Our boat, by comparison, has about 350 square feet of living space.
A different voyage for us
George and I, however, decided that so long as we are healthy enough to care for ourselves and each other, we would rather be on our own. Boating, of course, has been important for each of us for many years, so this next move seems a natural one.
Living on Next Chapter – A moveable feast
Our plans are to live on Next Chapter in Key West during the winter and on Cape Cod during the summer. George’s family has a summer house with a dock on the Cape (East Falmouth, just 7 miles from Martha’s Vineyard) and we travel to many harbors in the northeast.
This year we have a trip to Madeira planned for October and into November. When we return we will take the boat from Gainesville and travel by the inland waterway to Key West, arriving by December first. In subsequent years we will spend fall and winter in Key West and summer on the Cape. The boat will sometimes be sent back and forth by truck and sometimes piloted by us.
The best way forward is to turn your dreams into a plan.
Note from John Andola: Thanks for using my post on your retirement site. My intent is to continue posting periodically to record various episodes and thoughts regarding the life style change and related issues.
Thank you John for sharing your story. We look forward to the next installments on where Next Chapter takes you!
Comments? Are you embarking on a different retirement voyage. We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts about John’s adventure in the Comments section below.