I am a refugee from reality, if you call grinding work, urban congestion, and expensive lifestyle “reality.”
I began seriously losing speed and altitude in 2002, when I accepted a small buyout from a large company, at the age of 53. It was my last stop on a career of more than 25 years. My boss said I “had guts” because I was making a change in my 50s. I said, “Change is good.”
In the intervening years, I’ve made do with a variety of survival jobs in metro areas. Twice I stayed with the same job nearly two years. By the time I hit 60 (last summer), I felt like my job was killing me. The metro suburbs seemed more and more congested, stressful and expensive. There was no sense of community. It didn’t feel like a civilized way to live.
I thought all summer about escaping. In early September, I found an inexpensive and very small apartment in a beautiful area, at some distance from the big city. I gave two weeks notice. I spent October sorting and boxing possessions. What I didn’t need I gave away or tossed in the dumpster. Most of the large furniture went to good homes with relatives. A few boxes and chairs are stored in a relative’s basement.
What was left, was transported, with help from my brothers, in one pickup truck and three carloads, to the new apartment. I felt like a fugitive — a happy fugitive. I escaped in broad daylight.
It took most of November to get unpacked and settled in my new retreat. After 44 continuous years of paid work, from age 16 to age 60, I granted myself a winter off. Six months of leisure and freedom to partially restore body and soul. To be continued . . .