Retiring = Reverting

The best way I can describe what it was like when I was a kid, growing up in a developing suburb of Chicago, is total freedom. Well, if you don't count school, life was so free. I had the run of the land, as long as my friends and I didn't cross any of the really major highways (which we rarely did). My neighborhood was one of many being built on what had been farm fields for untold generations. The benefit from all of the construction was the amount of available scrap lumber that made fort and treehouse building an annual event. During one wet spring, we picked up the scraps that had been placed around John's house by the construction workers so they could walk without sinking and slipping in the mud (we didn't know it would be John's house at the time because it was still being built and John wasn't living there yet). Being amateurs, my friend Todd and I haphazardly nailed the pieces together into what would be our second fort. The first fort was only 3 feet high, so this time we built it tall enough so we could sit upright in it. Forts were all about the building, not so much the habitation. It's not like we were under attack or anything. Anyway, on Monday after school we discovered that our fort had been returned to its previous use - the boardwalk on the mud! How could the construction workers be so insensitive, tearing down our hard work? Ah, well. There was never anything to do with a fort once it was built, anyway.

So now my wife and I are headed to the sticks in Tennessee to build our future. Besides a few forts, I have never really built anything to speak of. I did spend some time working for my dad's company back in my youth, though. With that, I learned a little bit about a lot of things such as concrete work, steel construction, welding, steel cutting torches, piping and plumbing, painting, and more. Most jobs were in chemical processing plants, so the conditions were less than glamorous and probably more dangerous than any of us realized. But I learned a lot and most of the work required improvisation to get done. Rarely was the job a fresh installation. Most often we were adding a storage tank or piece of machinery into an existing work area, and the work around us didn't stop while we were there. Needless to say, there was no air conditioning and if the work was outside in the winter, we were cold. Chicago cold.

I know I'm rambling a bit, but my point is that I'm no stranger to hard work. Many people, after learning about our plans, feel obligated to tell me that it's going to be a lot of hard work. It has been a long time, and I know sometimes I'll be wishing I could be sitting in a comfy chair behind a clean desk in a comfy office again, but I believe the memorable times of natural beauty and the glory of the harvest will outshine the city life, I'm sure. 19 years is enough - if not too much - to spend indoors. When we find our place, we'll build our home, and then some. Just like when I was a kid, but this time it's for real.

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