Spring is beautiful in our little corner of the northeast this year, and normally Paul and I would be planning a weekend road trip or two. From where we live, we are blessed with wonderful daytrip destinations in all directions: The Jersey shore, the Connecticut shoreline, the Hudson Valley, Litchfield County and the Berkshires are all places we love and can drive to in a hour or two.
But this year, we’re not. One reason is gas prices. When it takes $60 dollars to fill my tank, I think twice before I drain it. Joy rides feel especially self-indulgent.
Perhaps another reason is that we’ve been together almost 20 years, and we’ve done these trips over and over. We love the unchanging nature of these places, but the other side of the coin is that … they’re so unchanging. We’ve seen them and we’re ready for something new.
And that dovetails with our plans to move to Mérida. Now that we have future plans that require substantial upfront costs, we re-think any discretionary spending at home. I’ve mentioned that our restaurant habit has been kicked. Two nights ago, my boss took me out for a drink and appetizers at a restaurant that Paul and I used to go to all the time. It felt like a homecoming. I wouldn’t have been there if the company weren’t paying. I hardly buy “nice” clothes anymore. I don’t entertain myself by heading to Brooks Brothers or even Marshalls. I can’t tell you how many shirts, socks and trousers I get today from the wholesale club, or even from a tag sale, which in Connecticut’s “gold coast” can be really terrific. (A new Vineyard Vines shirt for $5! Three Ferragamo ties for $10! Yes, I enjoy helping the one percent clear out their closets.)
Hudson Valley and New England road trips can get pricy, especially if you want to stay overnight. Money that could go toward pasta tiles, a water softener or one of those fancy fly swatters.
We’ve had a wonderful 20 years up here, and I can’t believe the next 20 might be even better. For the first time since we bought our house in Connecticut, I’m working toward a goal the way I was in my 20s. Back then, I was preparing for life in my 30s and 40s. Now I’m planning for my 50s and 60s. God laughs at people who make plans, but I do it anyway. And the process has me watching my wallet.