Down memory lane…How did it feel to return?…Four days and counting…

From left to right; Doug, Jamie Tom, me, Sue, Nelleke and Dave, our dear old friends and neighbors on the point.

Not only did we leave all the people we love behind when we left Minnesota and the US almost five years ago, but we said goodbye to all of our worldly possessions; home, cars, and all personal belongings.

My happy guy, enjoying time spent with old friends.

We gave the family the memorabilia and physical photos (all of which we scanned) and sailed away with only that which was contained in an overabundance of luggage, at the time.

Now, pared down considerably with only one large clothing suitcase each, a third smaller bag with supplies and two carry-on bags, our worldly possessions are few.

Our former home.  Respecting the new owner’s privacy, we didn’t bother them to see it.

I won’t imply that any of that was easy.  It was more difficult than we can ever express.  But, somehow we both knew that this new life was meant for us.  And yes, it was a process.  Freeing ourselves from “stuff” didn’t come easily.

Little did we know, as we suffered the angst of “letting go” how meaningful and purposeful our new lives would become, providing both of us with a sense of joy, contentment, fulfillment, and happiness neither of us ever anticipated in these later years, especially after all this time has passed.

Our former home on the opposite side of the peninsula.

We had no doubt we’d return to our old neighborhood to see our friends and we wondered how we’d react to returning after almost five years.  We knew it would be no different for us than when anyone returns to a home in their long ago past. Doing so will always have the potential to bring up emotions many of us may have put aside for a time.

Alternate view of Jamie and Doug’s home with Nelleke and Dave’s next door.

As we stood on the road with our friends, looking toward our old house, we surprised ourselves when we each smiled, remembering the great times we shared, leaving us with memories we’ll always cherish.  There was no sadness.

Jamie and Doug, two doors down from our former home.  Thanks for inviting us to the “cocktail cruise.”

However, we weren’t sad in any way or, even felt nostalgic to any degree.  Later, when we discussed it, we equated it to how one might feel when they see an “old flame” while happily ensconced in a relationship with a “new love,” eliciting not much of a reaction, not a glimmer of sorrow…we’ve moved on.

And move on, we have, into another chapter of our lives for which we’ve adopted with grace and ease, knowing we made the right decision for us, not necessarily that which many others would care to adopt.

Doug, driving their spacious pontoon boat.

The people…we miss and we always will.  Spending Saturday night with our old friends and, after spending many other days and nights with other friends and family members, our emotions regarding all of them remain in tact, filled with love and admiration for who they were when we left and who they’ve become in our absence.

Jamie and Doug’s stunning lakefront home.

Yesterday was a busy “friend” day for me when in the morning friend Chere stopped by our hotel with gifts, Norwex cloths for our travels.  Thanks, Chere, how perfect they are!  

Sue sold her house this past year five years after our beloved Chip passed away.  We shared photos and story of her new home a few weeks ago.  Click here for photos.

A short time later when TJ and grandson Jayden arrived for breakfast, they dropped me off at friend Karen’s home while they headed to Wisconsin to buy fireworks.  Spending several hours with her was an unexpected treat when suddenly there was a gap in the schedule.

Tom picked me up at Karen’s home around 3:00 pm and we headed back to the hotel to change and dress for the planned dinner with friends Lisa and Brian at Maynard’s Restaurant in Excelsior located on Lake Minnetonka, an old favorite haunt. 

Dave and Nelleke, our former next door neighbors.

We spent hours talking, paying little attention to our food, instead focusing on one another.  It was so good to see them again as it had been to see Chere and Karen one last time and of course, our old friends Lisa and Brian last night.

Nelleke and Dave’s gorgeous lakefront home.

During this extended stay, I even had an opportunity to see an old friend and former business partner Theresa a second time on a whim during a gap in the schedule last week.

Tom’s fish and chips with coleslaw.  He’ll eat healthier food once we start cooking again in Costa Rica in about 28 days.

As this final week comes to a close, knowing we’re leaving in four days, we’ll focus our time and energy, as their work schedules allow saying goodbye to our family.  The busy 4th of July holiday puts a little damper on this process but we’ll manage just fine. 

Jamie and Doug shared this huge plate of pork chops at Hazelwood Restaurant, where we dined after our happy hour boat ride.

We arrived in Minnesota on a holiday weekend (Memorial Day) and are leaving on the 4th of July week.  Soon, we’ll return to the life our Aussies friends always referred to as our “living life on a perpetual holiday (vacation).” 

My usual Cobb salad with a side of sour cream (instead of salad dressing) which I’ve ordered almost every night since we arrived in Minnesota, almost six weeks ago.

For us, it’s not a perpetual vacation.  Its a nomadic life filled with adventure as we continue to explore beyond our wildest dreams, a decision that ultimately required a lot of change, sacrifice and adaptation, a decision we’ll never regret.

Thanks dear readers, for sharing this special time with us.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2016:

Historical building in Singapore one year ago.  For more photos and final expenses for the week we spent in Singapore, please click here.

Memories, old and new yet to come…

The 4th is over. The house is cleaned of the chocolate flag cake little hand prints and the freshly cut grass covered little feet.  The dog nose prints on the glass are gone, the kitchen cleaned from my “bull in a China Shop” food preparation, food flying everywhere.  

The leftovers are almost gone with only one more night of tender barbecue ribs, almond flour fried chicken and crunchy broccoli salad.  There’s one more piece of the gluten free cake for Tom to enjoy tonight after a 12-hour day of hard work in the heat. I look forward to placing it dead center on a his favorite white plate and handing it to him while he cools off in his comfy chair, TV in the background, Ancestry.com loaded up on his laptop, ready to go.

Tom doesn’t like for me to “wait” on him. He never asks me to get him anything. For me, it has become less of a gender role, but more of a being a caring and responsible partner in life, holding up my end of the deal. Retiring almost two years ago after 45 years of work I find my new “job” of homemaker, cook, blogger and travel planner rather rewarding.    

I do laundry every day, washed, folded and ironed if needed.  Each night, Tom took out his clothes for the next day’s work invariably choosing the same already washed and dried shirt among a dozen others, one that he wore the prior day.  

I asked him last night if his co-workers noticed that he rotated only two shirts. He laughed, saying, “Guys don’t notice other guy’s clothes unless they are particularly unusual or fodder for endless jokes.”  His two shirts are relatively boring.  He’s not.

This morning as I padded around the kitchen, almost running in circles, I anticipated my big activity for the day; lunch with my old friend, Lynda of 36 years at Maynards in Excelsior situated on Lake Minnetonka, where she and I hung out in the 70’s (when it was known as T. Butcherblocks). We’d skillfully maneuver our big boats up to the dock, tied them up, and proceeded to order copious amounts of sweet drinks with umbrellas, later dancing into the night in the upstairs bar, chasing boys. 

Both boat owners, we were proud to be women who could manage our meticulously cleaned and maintained 25+ foot cabin cruisers into a tight slip in “the front” of the dock, later heading home to our growing kids, our hard earned homes, our booming business and the responsibilities of the day. It was fun. We were young.

As we meet today to discuss our lives, she with her second husband, me with my third, we’ll surely chuckle over the changes in our lives; our grown kids, our grand kids, she and her husband Jim, living part time in China with two homes in California and now a home on Lake Minnetonka and, us on our path of seeing the world. We’re both digging into our “bucket lists.”

We both still work out almost every day, as we did then, enjoy healthy food, take care of ourselves and grumble over the ravages of time that inevitably heads our way.  We accept that reality of aging as gracefully as we can. We both still relish a “cute” outfit and a brag-worthy bargain on a sexy pair of high heeled shoes, comfort being more of a prerequisite than it was in the past. 

Life has never been easy for either of us, as for most. We worked hard for what we wanted and fumbled along the way. We experienced sorrow, health issues, disappointments and failures. We survived. We still know the words to Gloria Gaynor’s, I Will Survive, popular in our “day.”

It will be a lovely lunch, seeing an old friend, sharing our lives, ordering the delicious Seared Ahi Tuna Salad that I always order at Maynards, reminiscing about the past, anticipating the future that we both share in common in so many ways.

Later, when I return home, I’ll squeeze into a bathing suit spending a little time getting my usual hour’s worth of Vitamin D, finish a load of wash and anxiously await Tom’s return home.   I’ll pour him a cold glass of sugar free iced tea and set out the white plate for him to enjoy the last piece of the gluten free chocolate flag cake. 

I’ll ask him no less than three times if he’s ready for his cake and smile when he finally says “yes”, springing from my comfy chair to get it for him.  

He never asks for me to get something for him, which occasionally makes “waiting” on him, all the more meaningful.