One would think that, as one prepares to enter the seventh decade of life on the planet, the tough decisions would be behind you. The ones that are the trail markers of your life. The ones that etch memories into your soul.
Should I attend college or not? Have I found the right person for a life together? Do we have kids now or wait? What career to pursue? Does one take the promotions and raises that mean more time away from family? How to care for aging parents, ill siblings or children? And, so on.
Like those of you who’ve faced any of the above or many others not mentioned and, then, reached the milestone of retirement, one would think that one could take a breather. That one could find a comfortable chair, kick up one’s feet, turn on some music, and sip some adult beverage of an evening knowing that all such were behind one and receding into the dim mists of the past.
One would be wrong.
My wife and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to New Orleans. The trip will include a jog to the southwest to visit our granddaughter in Texas with the primary intention of spoiling the bejabbers out of her. Our guiding principle that week will be: “Mom and Dad say no, ask Grandma and Grandpa.”
But, back to New Orleans. With apologies to Louie Armstrong and his Dixieland Seven, we both “know what it means to miss New Orleans,” and this trip is being made to help us decide if we want to move back to where we were both born and raised. To the place where we met and were married 46 years ago. To the place where we both still have large family presences.
You see, we miss the food — the gumbos and jambalayas. We miss crawfish boils. We miss beignets with cafe au lait. We miss pralines, the red beans and rice on Mondays, and the fish dishes on Fridays. We miss the pace. Hint: It’s slow. New Orleans isn’t a southern city. It’s a Caribbean city situated in the South. Time doesn’t “march on” down there. It strolls — usually with mint julep in hand.
We miss the festivals and Mardi Gras. We miss the music, the history and the architecture. We miss jazz funerals. Minor aside: My wife has already picked our spot for viewing eternity. It faces a water feature. I’m not sure if that will matter when we arrive (so to speak) but, if you have to rest somewhere for all eternity, a water feature nearby isn’t something that’s likely to irritate you.
We’ve gone back and forth on this for years and have, until now, made the choice to stay here in the Northwest. But that city never lets go. Yes, the traffic there is bad and, yes, we understand that we’ll be trading rain, volcanoes and earthquakes for mosquitoes, hurricanes, heat and humidity.
On that last, we both remember 95 degree, 100 precent humidity days where the road tar is bubbling out of the cracks and drying off after a shower is futile since you’ll start sweating (Note: Southern women “glow”) about four steps from your door. Too, we understand why the only reason you keep money in a savings account in New Orleans is to be able to bribe the air conditioning repair company to put you at the top of their list when yours fails. Still … that city pulls at us.
The tough thing, should we decide to move, will be leaving the great friends we’ve made here. We’ll miss the mountains, the summers, the fall colors, and not needing an air conditioner. We’ll miss the food — most of all the crab and wild salmon. We’ll miss the home we’ve had and the memories we’ve made over the past 33 years in a great and beautiful place.
So, we’re headed there to contemplate making what would be our twelfth (our thanks to Uncle Sam for the first eleven) and final move. It’ll be a tough decision, and we know it. Believe me, we know it.
And, for all of you just getting started on tough decisions or those who’ve made some and see more in the offing, don’t even begin looking for a “safe space” (whatever the heck that is). Just keep your “grown-up clothes” handy because such decisions keep coming. Until they don’t — at which point it doesn’t really matter any more.
Water features. You know, I think my wife is onto something there.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.