Tl;dr – We are going on an adventure! Scroll to the bottom if you just want to see our schedule. Otherwise, enjoy our first jointly written blog post on how we got here.
This all began in the fall of 2014.
Where do you imagine us five years from now?
We had just pulled off our biggest change as a couple to date, successfully navigating a year of long-distance relationship-ing. In November 2013, Teresa fled the corporate world to do a career reset while teaching snowboarding at Beaver Creek in Colorado. Meanwhile, Emerson stayed in the Bay Area for a year of real city living in SF while gaining more experience at Pacific Gas and Electric and wrapping up a three-year course of orthodontic treatment to address some jaw issues. After a season of ski bumming, Teresa found a job, a place to live, and two great roommates in Boulder, and told Emerson to get his act together. A few interviews later, he landed a job at NREL and moved out to Boulder in October 2014.
And just as we were catching our breath, we were starting to think about what was next.
Let’s see. 27 plus 5. We would be 32. We would be in our 30’s in 5 years?!
Is 5 years a lot or very little time? We couldn’t decide, but agreed that it was at least mildly terrifying. Terrifying! Okay, but back to the question. What would an ideal 32 look like?
We both wanted to be learning and working on something meaningful, in a way that interests us every day, on our own schedules. We would have a bajillion more passport stamps then. Amazing mountains and trails to ski and bike would exist right outside our front door. We’d be starting to consider having the cutest, chunkiest babies who sleep a normal 8 hours each night (we can dream, ok?). We’d still make each other laugh and inspire each other to be and do better every day. All this in 5 years? Easy!
Then, in typical Emerson fashion, he brought down the reality hammer:
Okay… so what qualifies as meaningful work? What’s your ideal day to day, week to week, month to month routine? Which passport stamps? Kids would limit our ability to travel, do you agree? Where can we happily live long enough to raise our kids to an age where they can survive long car rides and hikes? Are we supposed to have a wedding? This all sounds great but how do we get there? Details plz!
Emerson got out pen and paper and made time for us to formally address these questions and more. We both took notes. Our notes suggest we processed the information differently, but we arrived at the same conclusion.
This “State of Our Union” kitchen table edition was how our next 6 months started 3 years ago. It made our shared and independent life goals explicit and exposed the unknowns around how to achieve them. It resulted in our promise that no matter where we were in our careers, and given no major life complications, we would start an extended period away from work before Teresa turned 30 (since she’s the old bag-o-bones in the relationship).
At various points, we’ve called it a mini-retirement or (very optimistically) a quarter-life crisis, but the key point was to step back from routine and try a lot of things in a short amount of time with 100% mental availability. It’s like…idea gardening? Future farming? The “no 9-to-5” is the fertile environment for new ideas or possibilities to take root (what would you think about if you didn’t HAVE to think about any one thing? Where would you live if you didn’t HAVE to be in any one place?). The travel piece is the sprinkle of seeds, with lots of different idealets in the form of new places, people and perspectives.
Since our grand kitchen-table chat, we’ve been preparing in one way or another: create and supply a “Don’t Touch Me, Don’t Even Think About Me” savings account; make deliberate, disciplined investments (our home purchase was subjected to extensive spreadsheeting around long-term opportunity cost); pursue new jobs and projects for skills that we can continue developing from anywhere; take care of our friends, family, and colleagues and make sure they’ll be okay when we’re away.
So with all that said, here’s our plan for the next 6 months as we travel out the cone of uncertainty:
November 15: Fly to Taiwan
November 20-something: Bike tour all the way around Taiwan’s coast
December 6 – 12: Singapore and Hong Kong to learn about sustainable city-nations
December 13 – 20: Japan to snowboard and ring in the big 3-0 for the old bag-o-bones
December 21: Family time in Taiwan
December 29: Start North America snowboarding road trip guided by the Mountain Collective resorts
March 12: Shower and go to Tallahassee, Florida for a wonderful wedding
March 26 – April 9: Everest Base Camp Trek
April 10: Nepal/India
First weekend of May: Return to the US for Teresa’s brother’s graduation (hopefully… if he makes it) and a zany zoo wedding
After: Continue traversing the cone of uncertainty
After this, who knows? Another five-year plan? (How communist!) If the past 3 years have taught us anything, it’s that recognizing what you don’t know is the start of a great adventure.
Here we go!