Never Too Late For A Great Adventure

Never Too Late For A Great Adventure

Everything was fine. Really.

My husband and I found ourselves in our mid-sixties with a truly nice set of circumstances. We had our health, a solid 35-year marriage, three gainfully-employed daughters who actually like us, a lovely home on a tree-lined street in South Pasadena California*, and many very long term, VERY dear friends.

*If you think you don’t know South Pasadena, look at any commercial with craftsman houses or an old-timey pharmacy in the background…that’s it.

Why then was I discontented? I’m not sure I can explain it, you’ll just have to trust that after years of “everything’s fine” I found myself crying uncontrollably one day. I thought maybe I needed to leave my husband, and I blamed my despair on the lack of passion in our relationship. I resolved to have it out with him.

Well, the conversation did not go as expected (thank God).

When I very seriously began to describe my fear that I was on the slow roll to death he chimed in and said, “Well, maybe we should do something. Maybe we should move.”  I was dumbstruck. It was the LAST thing I expected to hear from my very- comfortable-in-his-man-cave husband.

I could tell the story about how we selected our destination but that would obscure the point. This is a story about taking a big chance later in life. We selected Petaluma, CA, a town I knew from many visits to my best friend who had lived there for a couple of decades. SO MANY things went well along the way….we took a year to gradually do the things we knew would make the most difference in the sale price of our house; it sold easily and for more than we could have hoped for…so many big and little miracles…

But it may be more useful for you, honored reader, is to hear about the crucible moment of doubt. It came for me one day when I was visiting my friend in Petaluma and doing some preliminary neighborhood-scouting. It was May, and we weren’t planning on putting our house on the market until July. I was driving by myself on the streets of this quaint little town when I was suddenly gripped by the gravity of what I was doing. I say I because I felt VERY responsible both for the fact that we were moving and the selection of the town. Really, my husband was doing this for me. My dear husband who had lived in the greater Los Angeles area for 40+ years and had all he really needed (a den that he loved) - I was moving him to a town with stop signs on every corner (he hates that) and where you can drive 10 minutes in any direction and be in a cow pasture.

Not only that, but we were going to put our house on the market and then what?  Logically we would have to wait til our old house was on the market to put in a bid on a new house…but what if our house didn’t sell? What if we didn’t find a place in Petaluma that would work for us? What if there was a gap between when escrow closed on the old house and finding/closing on the new house….where does our stuff go?  Where do my husband and I and the dog and the cat live in the meantime? What if he winds up hating Petaluma. What have I done???

And here’s the real point. I didn’t resolve those doubts in that moment. All I did in that moment was take the next step. And then the next one. And that step led me to walk in the door of the perfect house for us the very next day. Finding the perfect house two months too early led to some creative bargaining….creative bargaining led to a contingency where we would rent the new house til escrow closed on the old one, and that meant that we could move into it as soon as we needed to. We stepped up our game, put the South Pasadena house on the market a little early, sold it in 5 days….you get the picture.

We’ve lived in Petaluma almost 5 years now. By virtue of the connection we already had, the welcoming nature of this town, and our own willingness to dive in, we have developed a multitude of deep, dear friendships. My husband has more men-friends than I think he has ever had in his life, and he is absolutely thriving. (Turns out I had grossly underestimated him.) We’re both socially and politically engaged. We have a wonderful garden, a beautiful house, and all is well. I do miss my friends in LA, but with the ones that matter the most we mutually make the effort to stay connected…and anyway, those friendships are timeless.

My takeaways?

1) Communicate. Maybe it won’t turn out like you’re sure it will.

2) Swing out.

3) When you’re head starts screaming at you, take the next step….at the very least it will ALWAYS lead away from “the slow roll to death.”

I can’t end without this quote from Willaim Hutchison Murray….it’s been ringing in my ears since I started writing:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!


Micki CarrolMicki Carrolll, intermittently retired, spent most of her career in administration and management, albeit in wildly diverse settings. She currently takes on a small number of health coaching clients and spends most of her time immersing herself in her community’s political activities.


Micki Carroll

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Sandra Anfang
Petaluma Love of Aging Group
I’m in, Micki. I got past the roadblocks and am looking forward to your group with our other coven friends. The bot told me that my comment was too short, so I’ll elaborate. I’m pretty good with the big changes since I’ve made them all my life. It’s the little ones like bureaucratic snafus that trip me up. I guess I like to get to the meat. I’m looking forward to your group!

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