Living the Life You’ve Imagined

In two days, I get to cross a big ticket item off my bucket list. Wow.

Since I was a kid, I’ve yearned, longed, like way-deep-down-in-my-soul, to live in New England. I was born and grew up on the West Coast, but something about the aged brick and ivy of New England has always appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities. Not sure why, exactly. Maybe it’s the way it’s always portrayed in the movies. The architecture. The history. The foliage. All of it. It calls to me in a big way.

So tomorrow we leave Chicagoland (once again) and drive off toward our 3-month stint living on Cape Cod. The daydreaming child version of Annie is giddily jumping up and down with joy. This is literally a dream come true for me.

I’ve been thinking a bit about how this came to be.

When I tell people about our family’s unique current situation (living as nomads traveling the U.S. for a year), I get a lot of comments about how lucky we are. And that’s true. We are lucky. 

We’re also intentional.

Most people are too polite to ask us how we’re doing it, but I imagine that many must assume we have a large disposable income (we don’t), a large savings account (nope), no debt (pretty sure I’ll be paying off my college education til I die), or some other financial means that they don’t have. 

We aren’t wealthy, at least not by American standards. We’re solid middle-classers who shop at thrift stores, worry about the cost of groceries, and pray for money to miraculously fall from the sky to pay for our kids’ college. No rolling in the Benjamins around here. 

So we’ve had to be creative to live the life we’ve imagined. Like billions of others, I’d love to be independently wealthy and travel the world. But that’s not our circumstance. 

Selling many of our belongings, putting the rest into storage, and using our monthly rent/mortgage money to travel was a bold move. Finding vacation rentals that fit our budget and make sense logistically hasn’t been easy. But it’s been possible. If we had larger financial means, this year of nomadic living would have been a piece of cake. But the challenge is part of the adventure of it. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.) 

What we do have – in plenty – is freedom. And that’s something we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to choose. Both Havarti’s and my jobs allow us to work from home, which is really cool, but not entirely unique in the digital age. We’ve homeschooled the kids from the beginning, with freedom being one of our big reasons to do so. We chose not to buy a home again because we weren’t planning on living in the Chicago area forever, and we wanted to be free from selling a house in a volatile market. 

Freedom is big for us. We take freedom into account any time a big decision is to be made. 

So we are lucky, yes. We were fortunate enough to be born into the American middle class and we recognize that that automatically gives us opportunity that much of the world doesn’t have. 

But we’ve also capitalized on our circumstances. We’ve made this life possible partially through small choices we made over the years, partially through large choices we made over the years, partially through patience and planning, and partially by seizing the opportunity when it presented itself.

So in addition to being lucky, we’ve also made it happen. I’m guessing that’s true of most dreams come true.

Of course, living on Cape Cod for 3 1/2 months isn’t 100% “living” there. But that’s okay. I’ve long known that my dream of living in New England isn’t realistic long-term. Our life is in the West. Our families are there. Our history is there. Other than my personal aesthetic sensibilities, there’s no reason for us to move to New England. So this trip is a perfect way to realize my dream for a short while. 

There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your dreams to fit your reality.

While we may not always be able to live exactly the life we imagine, I’m convinced that with some creativity and rigorous planning – and yes, a bit of luck – many of us can live some version of it, in the right season, at least for a while. 

And that’s really something. 

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 1

  1. Anonymous

    We are responsible for our own happiness. We must move in the direction of our dreams then the magic happens. You and your family have it figured out. On a side note, you picked the perfect seasons to spend in Cape Cod. Enjoy the changing colors then the landscapes covered in a dusting of snow.

    Shanna

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