I love my brother in-law. I’ve known T’s brother longer than I’ve known T. We were in the same grade from Kindergarten through high school. We went trick or treating together. We went to the same birthday parties. As kids growing up, our families lived within a couple of blocks of each other. I don’t ever remember a time when my brother in-law, Jack, was not a part of my life. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. He was with me when I was in labor. He was the first person I saw when I woke up from almost losing my life. Our families have vacationed together, mourned together, and celebrated together. Jack and his wife have raised their children about a block away from our home.
Jack and his wife began dating in high school, just like T and I. We went to proms and homecomings together. We were in their wedding, and they were in ours. As young married couples, we often talked about potentially starting a business together. What could we all do? Would we all be able to work together? The years have flown by. Kids were born, and now they are mostly grown. How did this happen? Without warning, we are at that strange transitional phase when we are all realizing that we do not have an endless amount of time left to us. We are aging. If we are going to take any chances, then NOW is the time. We no longer have years and years to wait until the time is right. We don’t have the luxury of speculating and thinking, “someday, someday.” Someday is now upon us.
On the 4th of July, T called his brother to come over and sample a delicacy from his grill. T had been smoking a Boston butt for over 12 hours, and it was ready to come off of the grill. It was about noon. T had been checking the grill temperature all night long so that it would be cooked to perfection, and it was. It was delicious, falling apart tender. The seasoning was fantastic, too. T and Jack stood out on the patio for about an hour talking about (who knows what!) men things. I eventually came out carrying a beer for each of us, and we all sat down in a shady spot. Jack and his family had recently returned from a trip to the Keys, and I asked him all about their vacation. As we talked, I mentioned that T and I had been planning a trip, but were having trouble scheduling things around our crazy work schedules. T mentioned that he really wanted to look at real estate when we headed to Florida. Jack looked stunned. He said, “Are you serious? Would you really consider moving to Florida?” Then he said, “I better have another beer. We need to talk.”
He and his wife had been talking about the same thing. They had also been looking at real estate. They had talked to their kids. They had a plan. The plan was that my sister in-law would go first, in September, rent a place for them to live, and find a job. Jack would stay behind and continue working until their house sold. Their kids were on board, and they were excited for the adventure and for the change. T and I sat stunned. T looked at me, and I knew what he was thinking. Could we do this? Would I do this?
T has wanted to leave here for years. It has been me, as an only child, who has refused. I had obligations. I felt responsibilities and ties here. I no longer have those responsibilities or those ties to keep me here. Until now, I have never felt the sense of freedom that would have allowed me to strike out on a new life in a new place. There has never been a time before now when the idea of leaving here actually made sense.
We have marketable skills. Time is running out. We are not getting younger. There are real reasons to leave here, memories that refuse to fade, sad events and loss. Yes, there is good here, too, but wouldn’t a fresh start make sense at this juncture? An adventure may be just what the doctor ordered.
We have talked to all of the kids to get their input. The girls are READY. Luke will be in Milwaukee for at least four more years. He has signed a one year lease, and does not plan to come back home next summer. He fully intends to find a job teaching at an inner-city school while working on an advanced degree. He told me that he knew that we could, and would, travel to spend time together. Andrew called me tonight and said, “Mom, if you go, I’m hitching my wagon to that train.” He was laughing and excited.
All four of us, the two brothers and their wives, sat on our patio tonight. We drank beer and talked until the sun went down. Could we do it? What was the first step?
For the most part, I was quiet tonight. I sat picturing what the future might hold for me. Could this be the answer I have been seeking? Is this the right thing for ME? I sat there wondering what is keeping me here, and honestly, I could not come up with much other than sentimental memories. Memories are not enough. Memories are easily packed away to travel with me wherever life may take me.