Sunday, September 18, 2016

Comfort Zones

Sitting on the deck, coffee in hand, witnessing yet another beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic. Standing at the overlook sipping wine while watching the spectacular sky colors as the sun sets beyond the next mountain ridge. Singing and dancing to throwback songs with like-minded friends of similar age. Hiking nearby trails or browsing shelves at the neighborhood bookstore dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. Three or four friends sitting on the porch sharing life stories and memories of traffic jams and grumpy former coworkers. Talking politics and tax rates and TV shows from the 1960s. Comparing aches and pains and scars. Renewing your driver's license in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Idaho.

Many people my age contemplate retiring somewhere other than where they currently live and visualize scenes unlike their current lifestyle. Right at the age when comfort is key they consider packing up what they don't sell off and moving to another state. Or country.

My mindset drifted in that direction at some point in my life. In the late 1990s my then-wife and I actually spent several hours with a real estate agent during each of our three or four times a year visits to the beach towns of the Outer Banks NC. I knew execs or owners of three of the six radio stations out there and occasionally had employment reality check conversations with them. My ex researched possibilities for lawyers, her profession. We brainstormed seasonal businesses, photography for me, dog sitting for her. I even had a plan for doing the job I had ( and still have) partly from there.

As I get closer to retirement age (I'm already there but refuse to admit it) and spend more time with friends and fellow barflies who have already retired, I hear so many stories and actual plans for retiring somewhere other than here. And I've had serious retirement conversations with my special someone about the pros and cons of moving one day.

At the same time, I can't imagine leaving. I love where I live. On the emotional side, I have a growing set of neighborhood friends. I know where everything is and how to get to where I want to go. I  am comfortable here. On the practical side, that same expanding set of friends could come in handy later in life when I might need help for simple things like getting to places. And I'm within a few minutes of doctors and outstanding hospitals and other medical facilities. I love the OBX but there is only one small hospital on the entire island and I can't imagine how long it would take to get there on a tourist-packed summer weekend, even in an ambulance. Plus, I don't think the Georgetown University Hospital MS Clinic has a branch there.

As always, I seek balance in my life. The patio where I'm writing this doesn't view an ocean or a mountain, but I can drive (or be driven to) such a view in three to five hours. I could certainly make friends in another town or state but I like my Maryland friends.

Am I missing some great future opportunities by staying in my comfort zone? Maybe. But my gut tells me I've got great opportunities right here. And hell, if global warming continues, I might have an ocean view one day too.

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