Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gene and Debbie's Wedding

Debbie and Gene at their wedding reception at the Oconomowoc Community Center overlooking Lac La Belle
It's a love story forty-three years in the making. My friends Gene and Debbie have known each other since we were all seventh-graders together at Longfellow Junior High School. They went their separate ways after graduation from Wauwatosa East High School, attended different colleges, established careers and families over a thousand miles apart, and lived their grown-up lives. But they stayed in touch over the years, at first through class reunions and later through family visits. Eventually, they found themselves single again, and then they found each other. Yesterday, they were married.

Dad and Mom at Gene and Debbie's wedding reception
My parents and I attended the wedding ceremony and reception, along with almost two hundred friends and family members, including eight high school classmates. For me, it was a mini-reunion, a chance to talk with people I have known almost all my life but have not seen in many years. We may not have been close in high school, but shared past experience makes us close now. We were so happy just to be with one another that we ended the night promising to meet again, in 2016 for what will be our fortieth class reunion. And who better to host the event than our newly wedded classmates, at their beautiful home on Lac La Belle? Hey, you two, we know you're on your honeymoon, but are you listening? Let's make it happen!

Congratulations and best wishes to Gene and Debbie as they begin their married life together!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Time to go

Whispering Jesse in wet storage, with bimini and dodger removed, at Marina del Sol
Nan and I are no longer in Isla Mujeres. Our grand plan to sail there from Savannah and live there for at least a year was mostly successful, with two major exceptions: our dog Scout was not with us, and I was not earning an income.

We knew that Scout would not do well being on a sailboat in rough seas for several days without any prior experience, so we left him in the care of Nan's sister Monica in Arkansas, with the idea of flying him down to Mexico at a later date. By the time we were settled in at El Milagro Marina, in early June, the temperatures were already above the airlines' eighty-degree limit for transporting pets. It was just as well, it turns out, as we couldn't imagine Scout tolerating the heat and humidity of Mexico during the summer months no matter how much we missed him. Coupled with the mosquitoes and sand gnats, we could barely tolerate it ourselves. After my return from San Diego in early July, we gave up sleeping on our overheated boat and checked in to a cheap room at the marina, mostly for the air conditioning. The boat's air conditioning was not up to the task of cooling the entire boat to a comfortable level, and we were afraid the monthly electricity bills would be in the hundreds of dollars.

When I left my previous employer, it was with the understanding that I would work for them remotely as a contractor on special projects. That hasn't happened. And Mexico has proven to have a higher cost of living than we anticipated. We quickly realized that we would run out of money before we could tap into our retirement savings, especially if we kept having repair issues with the boat. We would either need to cut back drastically on spending by anchoring out in the bay (see "A night at anchor") and cutting back on non-essential expenses, or I would need to find a new job. I started looking at U.S.-based employment opportunities back in mid-June, less than a month after our arrival. Nan and I both knew that getting a job would mean the end of our sojourn in Mexico, but we were ready to go. We realized that it is one thing to vacation in a place and quite another thing to live there. Vacations end, usually without incident, but life goes on, and the problems that develop along the way need to be solved, which can be extremely difficult in a foreign country with a different language.

Reunited with Scout at Monica and Vicky's in Bentonville, Arkansas
Now it is more than two months later. I am still looking for a job, but I think I may have found one. I should know for sure later this week. In anticipation, about two weeks ago, Nan and I prepared the boat for long-term wet storage and moved it to a marina in the lagoon, Marina del Sol, where it will be more safe from hurricanes. We packed up our clothing and anything else we could reasonably take with us. And we flew to Miami, where I was scheduled for interviews with two potential employers. From there, we drove a rental car up to Savannah to pick up our car from storage at my parents' home, and then we drove out to Bentonville, Arkansas, to be reunited with Scout. He met us excitedly at the car before we could even get out, and he has been following me everywhere since then.

From here, depending on what happens with a job offer, we will either drive out to Grand Junction to pack up for a move or drive up to Wisconsin to visit family and attend two weddings. Either way, it seems almost certain that the three of us will be moving to the Miami area within a few weeks. In the few days we were there, we explored enough to get a feel for the city and to know we could be happy there. A fresh start in a very different place. Maybe we could sail the boat up there and keep it at a local marina for weekend sailing trips. There are so many possibilities.

In thinking about it, the timing of our journey to Mexico was not optimal. If we had waited until after hurricane season ends in late November, or after hurricane season ends next year or the year after that, things would have turned out differently. It would have been much cooler, Scout would have joined us right away, and we would have had more money set aside. We will keep all this in mind for the future, when we get another chance to live our dream.