One thing I love about February is that it’s the shortest month. Another thing is the fact that spring is on the way. Here in Temperate Cascadia, I consider mid-February to be the start of “spring”, and “spring” lasts until about the end of June. And I like that. But despite all that, I’ve definitely have had a dark cloud hanging over my head this week. Maybe it’s because I was sick for a few days, maybe because I didn’t take an “adventure,” (see sickness), maybe because I decided to detox from caffeine for February (and yes, depression is a side-effect to caffeine withdrawal.)
And it’s not that I don’t have some great things to look forward to. I’ve been making plans about my upcoming trip to the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour in May. I’ve been pondering what to do with my tour-vacation in September. (Eastern Oregon?) There’s a few other small tours, plus bike overnights, other fun rides, Three Speed Rides, and more. I went to an “Adventure Scheming” get-together last week, and folks were surprised that I didn’t need any more scheming, I had already figured out everything I wanted to do for 2015!
But there is so much more that I want to do, stuff that won’t tidily fit into one of my authorized vacations. I’m talking about hitting the road again on some longer, more than a month tours. After getting back from the big tour in 2011, going out on a long tour again was far from my mind. But we’re approaching the four-year anniversary of leaving for that trip, and that itch is coming back…
Of course, that whole thing called work gets in the way. I can only take a few weeks off of vacation a year, and while there may be a chance at a sabbatical, I wouldn’t be able to get more than two months off, which is a bit, sure, but I could only take that during the off season. Meaning winter. And I feel like doing more than just a few months at some point.
And yeah, I’m getting itchy about work. Minus the year away from it, I will have worked at the same job for nine years this month! Nine years, jeez…when I started I thought maybe a year or two and find something else. But I’m still here. I could have found another job (or three) in those nine years, but there is something about familiarity, knowing what you’ll get with work. And I do get things like sick time, paid vacations, and health benefits. They also do know I like to travel, and work with me on my time off requests as much as they can.
But a smarter long-term strategy would be to figure out some way to integrate all the things I want to do with what I can do to make money. I’ve thought about art freelancing full time, but I’ve never done enough to justify switching to that as my only source of income. And it’s feast-or-famine with art, plus you don’t get things like health insurance or vacation pay. I could just quit work, sure, but there’s a lot of stuff I want to do that needs cash money: train tickets, bike projects, etc. The best I can do is hope to save up some money in the next year or so, so I can take time off to tour. But that feels like such a daunting prospect, with all those things I want to do that require money. I haven’t been able to just save money for a long time. And hell, I’d love to live by myself, but that costs a lot more than living with people, especially if I want to save up cash.
All of this is on top of that feeling of encroaching middle age. I’ll be 40 in August, not getting younger. I want to tour NOW, not wait until some nebulous concept as “retirement”. Heck, I don’t have a retirement plan by any means, and some days that scares me.
But on the flip side, I’m entering 40 free of a lot of those adult-life responsibilities (or burdens) that others have: I don’t own a home. I don’t make car payments. I don’t have any debt. I’m not married and do not have children. Besides the horror show known as my teeth, I really don’t have any major health problems (that I know of.)* If there is any time before I get too old to pack it all up and go on a really-long tour, the time is soon. But I don’t want to keep coming back and having to restart my life each time after a major tour either. I do like having some sort of stability, some sort of home base. I’ve got travel urges, but don’t feel like I’m nomadic, nor do I want to be.
I guess it all boils down to this: I need to go on a nice long bike ride and get my minds off things!