In what I refer to as my “first” life, our friend group decided to try a Mexican vacation. For me, it was the best. As soon as we returned from that first trip, I set up a payroll deduction adequate to accumulate the funds to do a repeat trip in two years and have it fully paid for. I was hooked. After my divorce, I continued building that vacation fund and ramped it up. I worked hard; I deserved that one week in paradise; every year. Heck with that every other year thing!
When Scott and I started dating in 2011, I knew that continuing a relationship with him would require a lot of compromise on my part. Everyone knows that a 4th generation livestock farmer doesn’t fall in love and move in with his girlfriend in another part of the State. Considering, if we were the match that our match maker thought we were, I would need to make some serious changes or concessions in my life. So, I decided Scott would have to agree to a couple things himself. He would have to get along with my “brother from another mother” and he would have to agree to annual destination vacations.
Could he enjoy this type of vacation? While it sounds like a no brainer for most, it was a major accomplishment getting him out of the barn for a day let alone for multiple days and all the way out of the country. Never a sun worshiper, he couldn’t see how this was going to be enjoyable but he was a sport and gave it a try. Ultimately the idea of a all expense paid vacation won him over. So in 2013, we went with a group of farmers from Michigan, many of them much older than us. That was a good starter group for him since he had something in common with them. We didn’t hang out on the beach with them but we dined with some of them a few times. It was nice seeing a familiar face on the resort occasionally. He managed to enjoy himself and we set a goal to do it again.
In 2014, I was able to take a once in a lifetime trip to Ireland with my daughter. She was finishing up a study abroad trip so I joined her for an extra week with one of her friends and three of her family members. It was a delightful series of planes, trains and automobiles. The country-side was beautiful and the people were so friendly. I think it will remain on my bucket list as a do-over trip with Scott.
The next year we invited Tal and Cindy to join us in Mexico for a belated honeymoon. That was an eventful trip resulting in several memorable stories. They joined us again in 2017 and we went again with them on their honeymoon in 2018. In 2019, we joined Scott’s cousin Jeff and his wife in Spain. That was another very fun trip with beautiful scenery. The language barrier was somewhat difficult there but the people proved to be very trustworthy. Scott left his suitcase at the railway station and when we returned some time later, it was still there. We joke that they opened it and found nothing but out of style clothes and decided to leave it. Funny now but not so much then.
Four couples enjoyed Jamaica in 2020; so much so that some are returning to that resort in 2023. Scott won’t be cleared for international travel yet so we will likely visit friends and family in Florida instead. Saving Aruba for 2024. 😊 We also were part of a group that did a house boat vacation in Kentucky in 2020. Scott didn’t have the best of luck on that trip either. After a slip and get crushed between the rock and a rocky ledge kind of fall, he was in agony with what was probably a broken rib or two. We went to Costa Rica in 2021 while most of the world was locked down for COVID. We found traveling very enjoyable that year as the resort was nearly empty and the excursions very affordable. We got hooked up with a young man doing day trips that had worked on a dairy farm in Michigan; a farm that was part of the co-op that I worked for so I knew of the farm. We did a great variety of activities including fishing for tuna and going to a crazy iguana park. Feeling comfortable with him, we did some touring out away from the resort and it was very interesting learning more about their culture and the work environment there.
That summer we did a bucket list trip to Maine for Cindy’s birthday. In 2022, we invited a new couple to join us in Cozumel. They proved to be a great addition. He’s an all-round nice guy like Scott and she’s as kind and bubbly as they come. And I think she enjoyed the water slides as much as I did. Again, we got to know a local guide and asked him to show us around some of the local hang-outs rather than the tourist traps. The island, resort and company were all great but the vacation turned into a nightmare when Scott developed excruciating headaches that just couldn’t be controlled. There were a couple nights that we both feared that we were on our last vacation together. One particular night I did something rare and almost unheard of, I got myself all “gussied” up for dinner; in my little black dress and a great tan. It was soon evident that he wasn’t going to be able to join us. I remember what a huge disappointment that was to not have him by my side. All dressed up and no prince charming to take me to the ball.
I’m not telling these things to brag but more as a walk down memory lane. A reminder to myself of all the great things I’ve been able to experience in my life. Precursors to all the things we dreamed we would do in our retirement. Reality was that we were both work-a-holics that cut out two or three-time outs each year. Always too much work to do; never enough hours in a day. Yet here we are, after basically tapping out for 3 months. The farm still moves along without him and the store is managing just fine without me. Sure the work environment is full of people that don’t want to work as hard as we think they should but at the same time, too many of us get so wrapped up in our jobs thinking the work place just can’t function without us. I left a job after 20 years in 2014 and they all moved on just fine without me. Sure, some people miss you occasionally but ultimately business goes on. We like to say that no one wants to work any more. Maybe part of the younger generations commitment to working is a consequence of growing up with working parents. It will always be about balance. Make sure you aren’t living to work and missing out on the adventures that await you.