Ken and I often are asked how we managed to retire young and move to France. We usually give simplified answers, citing frugality, financial responsibility, hard work, good luck and excellent timing as the main "secrets" of "how we did it." But today, since it's a very special day, I want to cite the No. 1 "how" I landed here, living a dream.
It wasn't always our shared goal to live abroad. In most of the 30 years we've been together, Ken and I rarely talked specifics about where and what kind of life we would live after we were able to stop working. While I might have been eyeing Paris, Australia or Manhattan, Ken likely was dreaming of a small fishing cabin on a lake in Northern California or a hacienda in Ecuador. What we did share, was the commitment to work hard, stay out of debt, give our kids educations and the means to launch their own lives, and to save enough money so we wouldn't have to worry about having to eat cat food in our old age after working ourselves half to death. As the years went by, we dipped our toes into traveling. Ken agreed to try France and he ended up éperdument amoureux (madly in love) with the people and lifestyle here.
Quitting one's job and moving so far away from family and friends can be very lonely. It is absolutely necessary to become (again) éperdument amoureux with one's partner. For every moment of passion, there are dozens of moments of frustration, irritation, anger and boredom. It is a wonder to me that I am still so much in love, after all these years, with that young carefree man I stumbled upon in a Sausalito grocery store. And it is astonishing that he still seems to like me, too.
Ken is my "how." Without him, without our separate dreams becoming one, without patience, endurance and (mostly) good humor, we would not be here.
So, joyeux anniversaire (happy birthday) my love. And thanks for the memories you create every day.