Two years ago this September we took the first steps toward “rewiring” our lives. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, as is so often the case, but we knew we were ready for something different – really different. It had been five years since we last tried to change direction and we were yearning for The Next Great Thing. We’d been gliding along pretty easily and that worried me. We both had a sense that time-is-running-out-and-we better-get-on-with-the-things-we-want-to-do-just-as-fast-as-we-can make-them-happen. We had no kids to put through school, we weren’t going to win the lottery, and I wasn’t waiting to get my pension from The Propellant Group. Why were we waiting? We didn’t have a good answer so we began to actually do the things we’d been thinking about for so long. Our decisions would end up touching every part of our lives, even those things we didn’t want changed, and have flung us in a new direction.
Most people think that our first decision, to ride a motorcycle around the world, was pretty radical, yet it didn’t feel radical at the time. As with most things in life, it was an incremental change. We’d done a lot of travel, a lot of travel on motorcycles, and we’ve been to our share of far away places. No, the actual riding of a motorcycle to places far and wide wasn’t that big of a deal – we became convinced that we could do it. What we didn’t realize then was the preparation required for this trip – and the decisions it presented — would affect every aspect of our life and have consequences two years later that we’re still dealing with.
The next step was a no-brainer: we needed to lease our house in Hollywood if we were going to travel for an extended period of time. This meant we had to do a major remodel if we were going to get the $5k/month that we got last time. Neither of us could have imagined what that meant as over the next 18 months we touched every surface remodeling “Hollyridge.” And, of course, we tried to do it The Mexican Way, that is to say the inexpensive way, thus dealing with the idiosyncrasies of our workers, their penchant for getting arrested, and our lack of Spanish language skills beyond “mas Margaritas pro favor!”
We were nine months into our preparation for the trip when we made the decision with the greatest impact: rather than leasing our house in Hollywood, we decided to sell it. I had been an advocate of selling for months, even years, as I wanted to be free of “things” to roam as we pleased. KR was cool with the roaming part, but she wanted a home base. She agreed to sell Hollryidge if we bought another base camp before our travels.
At first there didn’t seem to be much difference between putting our house up for a long-term lease and selling it: we’d still be away for a very long time; we’d have to move our stuff no matter what; we’d have to find places for our vehicles; and we’d have to figure out how to operate on-the-road.
Yet, within a couple of days, I realized we had crossed our own Rubicon, never to go back. Selling our house meant we were changing our lives for good. Or bad. But now change was inevitable and it was permanent. Questions that seemed optional extra before took on a new urgency. Where were we going to live? How? Where were we going to go? When? What were we going to do with all of our stuff? Our dog? Our bills? How was I going to make a living?
I’m finding out that “changing your life” (see the box on the left on what this means to us) is like teaching yourself how to walk again, as nothing comes naturally. There are no rest days as each day has another administrative detail to attend to or logistical challenge to meet. Try moving three times in three months for starters. Or packing away your life’s belongings in a way that you can get retrieve them once you start peeling back the onion. Beyond a credit card, how do you pay for things in a foreign country without incurring the 3% “international transaction charge”? How do you get a visa? And on and on.
There’s no guarantee that this story has a happy ending. We’re two years in and we’ve had more tough times than good. Eighteen months of remodeling and moving three times will take its toll. If nothing is a given, isn’t everything up for debate? Yet, I feel that we’ve hit the tipping point, life today (and tomorrow) is less about extracting ourselves from the past and more about inventing the future. I’m not willing to declare victory just yet, as experience has taught me that what’s around the corner might not be what we expect. Or want. But that’s the whole point of doing something like this…