Alan and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Time seems to have just flown by. If someone would have told me 15 years ago that by this time we would be retired, living in France, and planning a second 500 mile hike across Spain to celebrate, I would have laughed myself silly.
Yet, that is exactly where life has taken us.
I am constantly amazed by the path our lives have followed. When we first married and joined two families creating one with 10 people, most of our friends were supportive but privately probably thought we were nuts, (and they were right to think so!). Our first five years of marriage was invested entirely in the kids, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, snow sports, martial arts, school award ceremonies, parent-teacher meetings, school open houses, proms etc. By the second five years half of the kids had graduated high school and begun lives as young adults and we remained focused with the younger four.
We had been married less than 10 years when the last two (our twins) graduated from high school, we took them on a graduation cruise to Mexico where we met a man who would forever alter the path of our lives.
It is not often that a person can look back and identify the exact moment that the direction of your life changed and set you on a completely different path. We can.
We had just sent the boys off to explore Mazatlan with their older brother and went to a favorite bar in the Old City. There we met the man that would completely alter our lives. His name was Walter. We chatted for over an hour and he told us his story. He had been a truck driver in Canada. An accident which left him in a wheelchair had also led him to an early retirement. He loved to travel and been on vacation to Mazatlan when he decided that it would be a nice place to live. So he rented an apartment for about $300 a month and spent half the year in Mexico and half the year in Canada visiting family and friends.
We had already been discussing the idea of living outside the country and had investigated Belize as a possibility. We were thinking that it would not be too difficult to buy a house there and create a fun new life. Until we talked to Walter. It had not occurred to us to just rent a place somewhere. Odd I know, but as homeowners we just assumed we would purchase another house somewhere. That one chance encounter forever changed the way we viewed the path our lives would take. It took little time to realize that by renting rather than purchasing the entire world was available to us.
We hadn’t even finished our week-long cruise before we had created a list of what we deemed as essential for a life as expats. It was a small list. Location: anywhere that sounded exciting. Housing necessities: access to hot water for a shower, access to Internet for communication, access to veterinary care, access to public transportation. Life essentials: a week’s worth of clothing, a jacket, a good pair of shoes, cameras, computers, smartphones, the dog, the dog’s stuff, my favorite nail polish. That was it. A very simple list. With these few necessities we realized we could live anywhere.
I am ever optimistic that this journey will continue to lead us to new adventures, excited to welcome all new opportunities, and eternally grateful for a partner who shares my enthusiasm.
Looking back on the last 15 years there isn’t one moment I would change. I believe the smartest thing I have ever done was marrying my amazing husband. Life is good.