On the same day that we officially became empty nesters, the very day our youngest started college, we got on a plane headed for Zürich. We didn't really plan for the two events to happen on the same day, it just worked out that way. What WAS planned was to spend time together and to do the things that obligations had pushed aside before. The three years between our older girls leaving the house and the boy flapping his wings gave us plenty of time to decide how we wanted to spend, or at least start, this new phase of our lives.
We spent the time before our nest completely emptied planning to have no plans. That may sound strange and contradictory, but we really have planned to have no plans. Child rearing is nothing BUT plans. Long range plans like providing a good home, saving for college, raising a solid adult, etc. and massive short term, everyday planning of ballet lessons, dentist appointments, baseball games... anyone who has kids gets the picture all too well. So we set out ahead of time to have no set long term plans and let the short term, daily variety, be fluid and adaptable to each new day.
Sounds simple but in reality it takes some planning to have no plans. We knew that we would need some income. After all, we still have one left in college and we've grown fond of food and shelter, so we took steps in that direction. After squirreling away nuts in various holes for years, the time had come to dig a few up. We decided to sell our condo and buy some rental property for income as well as providing a place for our youngest to live while in school. It turns out that this is a fairly common method of providing housing for students and it seems to work out well as long as they don't go all Animal House on it. The no plans part popped up when the properties that we could get good deals on needed work. No problem, we simply became handymen for a couple of months and got to know a college town.... no plans and some new experiences to share.
We also thought we 'd like to see the world from the deck of a catamaran but new opportunities in Europe came up. So now we are seeing Europe and North America from planes, trains and automobiles. That's OK... no plans and new places to see. At some point in the future, when we really aren't expecting it, the boat idea might fall back into our laps. That's the way life is. Certainly things come up, but now we take them as they come instead of worrying ahead of time, then we simply adjust our lack of plans.
We are still in the early stages of this lifestyle adjustment but it's working because Veronica and I are on the same page. We spend almost all of our time together, something that may not be right for everyone, but it works for us. In the eloquent words of Kurt Vonnegut, we are a nation of two. This isn't something that we started just as our kids were leaving, we have been laying the groundwork for over 26 years. Back when we had barely evolved into human beings ourselves, Veronica squeezed out a few yard apes (how did that happen?) and we had to become responsible adults. While raising the kids, we always tried to remember that a huge part of being good parents is being a good couple. When the time came to get back to just the two of us, it wasn't hard to remember what brought us together in the first place. Part of the beauty of our new no plans plan is that now we get to be the kids for a change.
In addition, we have found that it is very important for us to keep learning. Try new things together. Try things that neither of us have any previous experience with, then we are in the same boat. Explore. Examine. Investigate. Inquire. Enjoy. That's the plan.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com