Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Seven-Year Itch

Confession: I wrote most of this post, word for word, in early 2017. I intended to publish it then with the title "Future Plans" but, for a variety of reasons, I never got around to finishing it. A year and a half later it is still relevant and, with a few additions, should bring you up to speed on the BIG changes happening in the next few months.

First, for some background, here is the link to a post I wrote on the fifth anniversary of my husband Greg's and my move to Portland: It really sums up how our lives evolved after traveling around the world for two years and then settling in Portland in early 2012.

Next, here is the link to the post I wrote after returning to Portland in late August 2017 after traveling, primarily in central and eastern Europe, for four months last spring / summer:

Finally, here is the post I wrote at the end of last year, which summarizes everything that happened in 2017, for better or worse:

If you actually read the above three posts, you have an idea of my current state of mind and can possibly predict what's coming next. It should be pretty obvious that the travel bug has caught up with me again. Even before we moved to Portland, Greg and I had many discussions about our plans for the future. I always said that I was willing to “settle down” for five years but offered no guarantees after that. I did really well for the first three years and most of the fourth, meaning that I still desired to travel but was satisfied with taking shorter one- to two-week vacations a few times each year. But the urge to be out exploring the world for a longer period of time has been getting harder to deny in the past couple of years. My creed has always been that life is too short to be unhappy, unfulfilled, or to settle for anything less than what you really want. I am now at a crossroads in my life where it's time to take a chance on finding that happiness in the world at large.

As noted in the aforementioned blog posts, there have been a few steps in my evolution from semi-settled to “need to hit the road.” The reality of my recent physical/health challenges along with the serious illnesses and losses of multiple friends and family members way too early in life is a definite mortality check. I will be 44 in a few weeks and now realize that I am already beyond the halfway point of my life. I want to do the things I'm capable of now, as I know there's no guarantee that I will be around next week or next month or next year, or that I will be healthy enough then to do the more challenging type of travel that I love.

Greg has been a faithful and supportive partner for more than two years of unconventional dating / world travel and seven years of marriage. We have always been open and honest with each other about what we both want and need to thrive, but we have struggled with a variety of challenges including job dissatisfaction, housing-related issues, and an imbalance of roles / responsibilities at home. We have both questioned the future, although admittedly for quite different reasons. But now we are at a crossroads in which Greg wants to stay in Portland for at least another year (maybe longer) while he figures out what he wants to do next and where he wants to live; and I have grown tired of waiting to see what happens next. While I may not have a detailed plan to get what I want other than that it involves exploring the world, writing a book, and finding meaningful ways to contribute to the places I go and people I meet, I am almost 100% certain that it does not involve staying in Portland.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Portland and my community here. It’s just that the newness and adventurousness of it all has worn off. Yes, there are still plenty of local restaurants I haven’t tried, cultural experiences I haven’t had, trails I haven’t hiked, nearby places I haven’t explored, etc. But I've done a lot more than many people who have lived here their entire lives. Plus the rising cost of living in Portland and difficulty finding affordable housing that meshes with a car-free lifestyle is extremely challenging. On a larger scale, the political situation and division in the United States as a whole is disturbing to say the least. Sometimes you have to leave the city and people you love for a while to better appreciate what you have. Then, hopefully, it will create a strong desire for you to return and bring with you a renewed excitement and energy to make it even better than it was before.

My timeline in general is this: I will be in Portland for all of June and July, with the exception of a still-in-the-planning-phase trip to Olympic National Park. I also hope to do a few weekend trips to revisit places I have been before but have not visited in several years (Eugene, OR; Vancouver, B.C.). Greg and I are flying to Los Angeles on August 9 to spend four days visiting his brother and sister-in-law and also my family from the Netherlands, who are spending the entire month traveling around the U.S. After that, depending on if we have already moved out of our current residence on Mt. Tabor or if that is scheduled to happen closer to the end of the month, then I will either return to Portland for a few more weeks to pack and help Greg move, or I will fly from Los Angeles to Guadalajara or Mexico City and begin my Central and South American adventure. I will be gone through at least March 2019; Greg, along with my mom and stepdad, is meeting me in Buenos Aires, Argentina in late February to start our two week cruise that ends in San Antonio (Santiago), Chile. It's very possible that I will not return to Portland even then; that will depend on my health, finances, and whether or not I have accomplished my goals.

Bottom line: Including today, I probably only have NINE WEEKS LEFT as a Portland resident. I would love to spend time with as many of my friends here as possible before I leave, as you are what I will miss most about this city. Even if you do not live here but would like to visit, I hope you will reach out to me via text, email or Facebook Messenger and let me know when we can get together.

So, in a sense, this is the beginning of goodbye, at least for now. I will continue to publish updates here and on social media as to my plans, but in the meantime let's make the most of our remaining time together! Thanks, as always, for reading and for your continuing friendship, love and support!

P.S. Here is Greg's ad for housing in inner southeast Portland:
Please let me know if you have any leads. Thanks!
This is the scratch off map Greg gave me last year. I have been to all 50 states and more than 70 countries and yet there's still so much of the world I haven't seen or explored. I plan to change that over the next year or two!