Today is my 64th birthday. That is amazing. I figured life was over when I was 50. That’s when a 28-year relationship ended and the kids were all out on their own. I felt like I had done my duty raising a family and what else was there to look forward to except work and bills? Boy was I ever wrong. Soon to follow was a separation and divorce. My wife and I had grown apart and with the kids gone there was no longer the glue that kept us together.In my last column I went over the strange world of being single and basically — going by the standards of anyone 10 years and younger than me — old. That’s a bit disheartening on its face. But, through the magical world of Internet dating and chance meetings, life has become a real adventure for this baby boomer. I have made many lady friends but not necessarily lovers. In roundabout ways these friends steered me in directions I had never anticipated.
For example, in 2009 I was like most every other small independent real estate brokerage. We were all seeing our agents having to leave the profession and find wage employment in order to provide for their families. Yet, we small companies still had huge overhead expenses and a real estate market in free fall.
For two years, starting in 2007, one failed transaction after another after another occurred. Stress was a mild word to describe the personal struggle not to mention the problems my agents were having and discussing with me. It was a very heavy load to carry and I had nowhere to turn. In the midst of that I had a TIA, which is a stroke. It was caught within three hours so no physical damage was done. I was lucky.
That gave me pause about life. In an innocent Home Depot encounter I met a sweet lady by the name of Brandy. She was 15 years younger than me and very pretty. I was mentally old and losing everything. I had not had a vacation since 2005. My ex, who lived with her now new husband, had a condo in St. George, Utah. She and her husband were going on a cross country road trip and said their condo was available if I wanted to get away.
I was in a funk and knew I couldn’t break free even for four days. But Brandy agreed to come along as a platonic friend. During those four days we both discussed how nice it would be to just go find a new life somewhere else and leave all the stress behind.
Those were days of reckoning for me. That is when I set out on a goal to be debt free and find a place in the world where I could do whatever I want, whenever I want, living on a mere Social Security income. Shortly after that trip Brandy found the love of her life and got married and I was on a mission.
From that April day in 2009, pushing 60, I was on a mission. Yet, I also realized we can set goals but we can still only live one day at a time. I decided to deal with my real estate that way. I acted on every little transaction that in the past I had avoided. That philosophy gave me a good two-year run.
Then I eventually downsized. I got rid of debt. I got rid of the golden handcuffs. I put away enough savings to buy a condo overlooking the Bay of Banderas in Puerto Vallarta and I took advantage of a gracious daughter who allowed me to stay with her when I am back north of the border.
There is a new sociology today. Think of that, family helping family instead of asking government for help. A reminder … Social Security was my money. Not the government’s. Personally I’d rather have the $175,000 in a lump sum instead of monthly, but those are the rules. I didn’t even earn interest on that money either.
The lifestyle is heaven for me now. I live in the two best places in the world while existing on a Social Security paycheck. With a paltry amount of savings I’m even in the process of opening a donut shop for fun and something to do. It is located right on the Malecon (boardwalk) next to Starbucks in downtown Puerto Vallarta. My startup costs are nothing like what they would be in the United States and the permit process is nearly nonexistent.
It is like the 1950s in the United States down here. Opportunity abounds and there is little resistance in pursuing dreams even when you’re “old.” Retired? Not so much right now, but mentally I am a kid again. Life is good. Every day is an endless summer and I never have to wear a wetsuit when I paddle out for some waves.
Despite life’s lemons, you just have to have a plan, have trust in a higher power that will guide you in peace and then succeed in living out your dream. Friends think I’m lucky and can’t imagine themselves being able to live a similar lifestyle. But it can be done if you really want to do it. Life can be lemonade. You just need to plan it and then seek out your peace.