Ever the optimist, I’m looking ahead to how my husband and I will spend our time together once we’re truly retired. This presumes that I’m eventually successful in dragging him away from his store. Since we’re looking to downsize outside of Rhode Island, I’ve pretty much got that problem covered. In theory, we’ll have side-by-side office space where he’ll work on the web version of his store and I’ll continue to write and to develop some web properties that have been percolating for years.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that the prospect of a life of nothing but writing and web activity is already beginning to lose its luster for me. Those who know Jagdish keep asking how he’ll survive without his stool and his “ashram.” I think I’ve found the perfect solution to both these issues.
We’re going to take our act—or more correctly acts—on the road. We’ll get an Airstream or Winnebago RV (or whatever the generic is) and travel across the country. This will enable us to see states where we’ve never been, or only breezed through on business. We’ll spend time in the interesting cities that folks have been recommending to us. And we’ll sniff out places where we can hawk our wares and ply our trade.
The first step will be to buy a used RV. The ones in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri seem to be more affordable, but we’d have to travel to get them; catch 22. I figure we’ll need to spend around $50,000 if we want to buy it here on the East Coast. This means that the home we downsize to needs to be at least $50,000 less expensive than what is currently in our budget. It also must be somewhere that will allow us to park the RV in the driveway. (Can you say: “You might be a redneck if…”?)
We’ll need a portable peddler’s cart—the kind you see at craft fairs or on sidewalks in the summer in tourist areas. Most of it will be filled with products from Spectrum-India, Jagdish’s retail store. He’ll have incense, essential oils, wind chimes, singing bowls and more. A portion of the cart will feature my books. I’ll do readings every hour, hoping to lure folks into buying the book after they hear how witty and funny I am. Jagdish will do handwriting analysis, palm readings and henna tattoos.
We’ll spend a week or two in each location, working our way from East to West and back again, following the change of seasons, as appropriate. This way, Jagdish can “set up shop” in all the places that visitors to Spectrum-India have been promoting to him over the years, without having to commit to a long-term lease. He’ll be able to take his stool with him, but he won’t be able to sit there until midnight or later. I’ll get to talk to him all day, and even eat meals with him. What a concept!
We’ll become peripatetic retirees, wandering the country like eccentric vagabonds. Jagdish will be able to hold court with different people every week. His friends back in Rhode Island won’t have to worry about him having store withdrawal. He’ll be like a turtle, carrying his store on his back, in a manner of speaking. I’ll continue to gather pop culture to write about, but with an even broader geographic perspective.
Our list of destinations will be chock full of university towns and artists’ communities. Our peddler’s cart will have stickers from Burlington, Amherst, Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, and Austin. We’ll spend time in Camden, Asheville, St. Augustine, and Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We’ll camp out in Savannah, New Orleans, and Mill Valley. If we hit the weather right, we’ll stop in Madison, Boulder, and Portland, OR.
Our peddler’s cart will have so many miles on it, we’ll have to buy new tires every few months. (Note to self: add tire expense to budget.) At the end of each year, we’ll evaluate the places we’ve been. We’ll return to the “keepers” the next year and explore new locales to replace the slots vacated by the losers. We’ll take suggestions of cities to add from any and all sources. We’ll shamelessly mooch meals from people we know in an area and folks we meet along the way.
After a few years, we might even decide to relocate to one of the perpetual winners, especially if it’s more affordable than where we’ve initially downsized. Oh, yes! This is a plan devised at the peak of my creative genius, and without the lubricant of even one glass of wine. Imagine what I might come up with after a glass or two! Or perhaps don’t.