Chained to Choices

The San Francisco Peaks from near my house. I have chosen to live in places where my weekends are like a vacation, placeS with great natural beauty and recreational opportunities, but I'm always looking for new and better things.

I'm struggling to maintain my personal responsibilities this year. After being stuck home for most of 15 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, I feel like traveling all the time, but find it difficult to justify the trips I want to take. Most days are taken up with work, and I have to use my earned paid time off judiciously.

Perhaps I'm spoiled. I got to take a long weekend to the White Mountains last year, and this year I visited my Mom once already (after a very long break), then I enjoyed a long weekend in Tucson. I have another family visit coming up. But the visits to family don't feel like a vacation. They are usually relaxing, at least in the sense that I get away from work, and it's good to visit loved ones. But we also have a contentious dynamic in my family, and sometimes it isn't all fun and games.

I also have to visit the house I inherited in Indiana this year, because I am responsible for maintenance. But I have no desire to go back to Indiana since my Dad died. It's a place that is now sad for me, and I have few close relatives remaining there. Also, as I have mentioned here before, I didn't particularly enjoy growing up in Indiana. That isn't what one does there (enjoy life). It's a safe place to live, and it's a place I'm tied to by property and family, but it isn't interesting.  Relatives expect me to visit, and I don't want to take all the time to do that, as I will be busy with the house. I can already foresee a desperately crowded itinerary. I may just invite them to stop by the house while I'm working on it.

When I was growing up, we took good vacations when I was young, particularly to Florida. I think this spoiled me with high expectations. But eventually my parents divorced and then we got geographically dispersed, and true vacations (or holidays) became few. We always traveled to visit relatives. This both saved money and took care of family relationships. But it never felt like a vacation.

I guess I'm a jerk, because most of the time I would rather see somewhere new than visit relatives. Nowadays we can keep in touch remotely and I just don't see the need to visit everybody that often. It isn't the old days.

If there is something at fault here, it is perhaps my failure to take chances when I was young, that might have put me in a financial position to travel whenever I want. Instead I chose day jobs, a steady paycheck, and weekend adventures, over entrepreneurialism or aggressive investment. I could write an entire book about the type of conservative, risk-averse culture that led me to those choices, but suffice it say, now I just have to put up with fitting scarce free time for travel in between work days. It's too late in life for me to start taking big chances. I'm anchored to the choices I made when I was in my twenties.

I'm preparing for retirement and eventually will be financially independent, but not until I near the average lifespan for my family. Except for a few of my more careful distant relatives, we generally don't live past our 70s. I'll retire, then die within a few short years like my grandparents and my Dad. If I even make it to retirement.



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