An Idea Born of Fire


It all began with a fire.  Sounds dramatic, right? For us it was, but not as dramatic, or traumatic as it was for some of our neighbors. May 14, 2014 we were in Kauai celebrating our anniversary and we got a call from my sister. “There’s a fire in your neighborhood, they are evacuating, what do you want me to get from your house?”.  Oh.  There we were with just a couple old t-shirts, shorts, bathing suits, sandals, hiking boots and snorkel gear.  The dog was boarding and my sister was taking care of the bird at our house.

What do you save?  If we were there, we could find the documents we needed ( yes, we live in Southern California and aren’t organized for a fire), go into closets and get photo albums, go into the attic and get precious Christmas ornaments my mother made or we collected the last 30 years, but we couldn’t really direct my sister through that mess and choosing one or two items seemed pointless from the tropical print cushions of the sofa in our timeshare in Kauai.  “Grab the bird, and some food and keep us posted” was all we could manage to tell her.

For the first time in over 10 years of visiting the island we spent the whole day in the condo, just monitoring the fire’s progress as best we could on the internet. We had lots of time to reflect on what losing everything would mean and feel like.  Being powerless and so far away was a truly peculiar feeling and we tried to adopt the casual island attitude about it and surrender to the idea.  Looking at our duffel bags with so little we kind of laughed at what we would have left and discussed how that worked perfectly well for extended periods of time in Kauai.  Hmmm.  We do want to travel a lot when we retire.  We are insured.  Maybe we retire early and just fill these duffel bags with some really practical stuff, not rebuild, just take off as homeless travelers.  Nervous laughter gave way to quiet thought and finally we looked at each other and started to discuss how we could retire that way in the future even if we didn’t lose the house.

And that is how our house not burning down caused us to retire as homeless travelers.

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