Edd: What do you think our life would be like now if 2008 hadn’t happened–when everything came crashing down? I mean if things had just continued the way they were going.
Cynthia: I have no idea. Sadly I guess we’d still be working but probably not in Vegas. We knew that wouldn’t be a permanent residence. Why do you ask?
E: I was just thinking about how great our life is but at the same time how unexpected. Here we are in Cuenca, Ecuador, of all places. Most people couldn’t tell you one thing about Ecuador beyond what continent it’s on. Cuenca–blank stare. There’s absolutely nothing about what’s happened to us that we could have ever anticipated.
C: OK, 2008 didn’t happen. We still have high-income careers someplace. Two of our three weeks vacation are spent with the kids and grandchildren. The other we do something for us. Our investments are growing to the point that maybe next year we can think about retiring. Does that sound about right?
E: Yeah. Let’s add to the list that we’d continue to be tired and stressed–we wouldn’t have time to take care of our bodies–and our social life would be, as always, non-existent.
C: That pretty much covers it, except you can’t ignore the probability of medical issues popping up due to the stressful lifestyle you just described. We were living the “American Dream,” right?
E: Or so we believed. Framing our lives like we just did begs the question, “What in the hell were we thinking?!?,” doesn’t it?
C: We weren’t thinking, Edd. We were blindly following the cultural script that we’d been given our whole lives. Why would we question it? It was working – until it quit working.
E: It was working financially, but since we moved here we’ve discovered how much it wasn’t working in the quality of life department. About all we did with our waking hours was go to work and do chores and errands. To me that’s the inherent flaw with the “American Dream”–it’s a dream about some elusive tomorrow. But how does tomorrow ever happen when it’s always today?
C: For all the downside of the “mañana culture” that gringos complain about, living for today is probably the best lesson we’ve learned since our early retirement to Cuenca. Getting back to the description of our imagined life in the U.S., I was saying that we might be thinking about retiring next year. We’ve already been retired for eight years. Can you even comprehend working for at least nine more years from the time we arrived here in 2010?
E: Oh, hell no. That’s what started this whole conversation. The economic crash in 2008 was horrible, right? We feared our world had come to an end. And yet, maybe against all odds we’ve risen like a phoenix from the ashes to a more incredible life than whatever it was we imagined back then. It just goes to show—something.
C: Wow, that’s profound.
E: You think so?
C: No. But “against all odds” I think you may be right.