There’s no reward without risk. Phil likes to remind me of this. I don’t consider myself a risky person. Quite the opposite. I’m quiet, shy, and prone to anxiety. These, however, are my default settings as I have the power to think and behave differently and often do.
I grew up in rural Missouri. Have you seen Ozark on Netflix? That’s where I grew up. My folks still live there and it’s beautiful country but as a young woman, I couldn’t wait to leave. I moved to the nearest “big city” for college, Columbia, MO (pop 120k). I remember being so nervous driving there because there were multiple lanes of traffic (well, two to be exact).
I loved Columbia and had (still have) great friends there. My brother was there. I met Phil there. I thought I was perfectly content to live there forever. Phil decided to go back to school and needed to take classes in St. Louis. I was working a job with the state that allowed me to easily transfer and so, we moved to St. Louis. St. Louis had even more lanes of traffic! It was a real city. We liked St. Louis and had friends there and eventually bought a house. I loved our little bungalow. We had a little yard and a big dog. We both had jobs that we liked. Things were good. I thought I was perfectly content to live there forever.
In 2014, we visited Phil’s dad who had moved to Palm Springs a couple of years prior. We rented a car and traveled around a bit and really liked the whole SoCal vibe. So, we hatched a crazy scheme to sell our house and move to California. After two years of planning, dreaming, and working, we put our house on the market in spring of 2016 and within three weeks, we had an offer for our asking price, we each had job offers, and we’d found a dog-friendly apartment with an ocean view in Long Beach, CA to call home.
We fit what we could into a 15-foot U-haul, got rid of the rest, and drove half way across the county. I remember feeling anxious about having to get rid of my stuff. Really cool stuff I had collected over the years. I caught myself in this moment; stressing, feeling tight and tense and thought, “Ohhhhh. This is just stuff,” and felt an immediate release, a whole body exhale. I had a brand new adventure waiting for me on the west coast. That was way better than stuff. I remember a friend asking why we were leaving. “Don’t do you like St. Louis?” I’ve thought about my answer many times since then. I told her, “We like St. Louis. We like our house. We like our jobs. We’re just not done yet.”
We lived in Long Beach for four and a half wonderful years (by then, multiple lanes of traffic were old hat). We had a great apartment. We had a kayak. I even realized my long-time dream of becoming a registered yoga teacher (thanks to Long Beach School of Yoga). I thought I was perfectly content to live there forever.
Then the global pandemic hit. Phil and I were lucky enough to have jobs that allowed us to work from home, for the most part. We spent 24/7 together in our 750-square foot apartment. We talked about how precious life is. How tomorrow is promised to no one. How we hated giving away 40-50+ hours of our lives away each week to make money for other people who didn’t care about us.
I worked in eldercare and have seen too many sad stories, like the couple who saved for retirement all their lives only to buy the RV and, a month into their dream, the husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or the wife has a debilitating stoke. I’m done saving the fine china for special occasions. I’m taking the Chanel No. 5 down from the shelf and giving myself a spritz. I am wearing grandma’s pearls to the grocery store.
So we hatched a crazy scheme to move to Spain. This was in mid-pandemic when no one really realized just how long we would be living with the reality of Covid, so we started the process of requesting visas. We applied for non-lucrative, one year, visas which prohibit us from working (heck, yes!). We decided to dip into our RV money a little early.
We were approved in February 2021. We once again got rid of almost all of our stuff. We drove across the country. We stopped in Missouri to see my folks and were lucky enough to be vaccinated. After a month there, we drove onto North Carolina to see Phil’s dad. We sold our car and left for Madrid out of Raleigh-Durham in late April.
So many little leaps of faith have led me here, us here. Living in freaking Spain! Me; a gal from Gravois Mills, Missouri. Me; a quiet, shy, introvert. Me; a bold, brave, woman. Because I’m not done yet.