So. Our house is under contract.
I haven't shared much here as Justin wanted to talk with his boss and co-workers about our plans before I "went public" but now that he has, I can tell you...
We are hitting the road, y'all.
We've been in the pre-planning stages for some time. Our plans have morphed quite a lot since we initially began thinking about what we wanted to do. It began as something grandiose and ideal..."we should save up and in ten years or so, we should sell everything and just play across North America for a few years." We wanted to take a few years "off" and just be 100% free to explore. Which would be amazing, I'm sure, but then...
We started thinking of it as a five-year-plan...how could we save enough money for ONE year of no work over the next few years? Also, our dog, Tessie, is NOT a hiker. Like AT ALL. She pretty much thinks we are full-on punishing her when we take her so much as car-camping and just wants to go sleep in the tent the entire time and wants no parts of us or a campfire or anything else that is "outdoorsy." So we morbidly began calling it "Operation When Tessie Goes, We Go" (stop judging us). She's ten-ish years old (she's a rescue and no one really knows her age, but that's the vet's guess) and we didn't want to torture her final years with living out of the back of our truck...she's our baby after all! So we stuck with that idea for awhile.
But then we were struck with reality. We aren't necessarily guaranteed that five years from now will be possible.
I am a cancer survivor. If there is one lesson that is driven home by being faced with a disease that wants to kill you, it is the idea that time is not something that is guaranteed to us. And not just in the sense of being struck down with illness or death or anything so dramatic. Why do we always imagine that "someday" will be easier or more financially certain than today? Why do we always think that "later" we'll be able to save more money or have more free time?
The reality is that "someday" will come with its own challenges. And that's assuming that we get a "someday."
We realized that life won't be any more accommodating for a trip like this later than it is right now. As a matter of fact, in many ways, THIS is the most ideal time for a big adventure. Our parents aren't likely to get younger or healthier than they are now. We aren't likely to become less entrenched in our work or community or life here. Simply put, it won't get easier to walk away from this life that we love by digging our roots deeper into it.
So we began thinking about how to make traveling the country something we could do NOW.
We are quite fortunate in the work that both of us do. Justin is a nurse and I am a hodge-podge of photographer, writer, teacher, speaker, candle-stick-maker. I can do my work from anywhere. And in the nursing world, there is an incredible thing called "travel nursing." For those of you not familiar, travel nurses work for an agency that works with hospitals across a region or even across the country. These agencies are called upon by hospitals when they have a shortage or nursing need that needs to be filled immediately and for a short-term period of time. Sometimes these needs arise because a nurse is going on extended leave (sabbatical or maternity leave, for example) and sometimes it's because a floor is having a high-turnover rate for whatever reason or the hospital has implemented policies such as requiring a lower nurse-to-patient ratio. There are hundreds of these jobs available across the country at any given time and usually last for about 3 months. The agencies usually provide benefits and either housing or a housing stipend. And, generally, they allow their nurses to continue to keep those benefits for up to 4 weeks between job assignments. So we'll be able to take a month "off" between jobs to play with total freedom.
Our ideal of unencumbered flexibility has been supplanted by a plan that includes continuing to work full-time, but being able to actually go now rather than wait for "someday." And that's a pretty worthwhile trade-off in our estimation.
So...we'll finish out 2016 here in Maine. We have a range of commitments that we want to see through and some logistics to figure out (not the least of which includes of disposing of 95% of our belongings). But early in the new year, we'll leave New England and head west.
At the moment, we aren't sure what, exactly, that will look like. Travel trailer? Agency housing? We just don't really know the answers yet. We'd planned to put our home on the market in the fall after figuring out some of those questions. But fate showed up in the form of fantastic buyers who knocked on the door and want most of our stuff as well as our home. When the universe throws you that kind of bone, you accept it and say thank you without question.
So here we go...the adventure begins 6 months before we will actually depart Maine.
It begins with how to define the idea of home. It begins with how to find "home" on the move. It begins by letting go of defining myself by my home and the things that I own.
But perhaps, most importantly, IT BEGINS.