Our nomadic journey started in January, and after almost five months in Europe, we’re back in the U.S.A. Our home base is Lansing, Michigan, and we arrived May 31. This post is about the kinds of business things we need to take care of. Next time, we’ll discuss how it feels to be back in the U.S.A. – visiting with family and friends, and experiencing U.S. culture again.
We have been surprised by how hectic it has felt to check everything off our list. For several months, we’ve kept saying, “We’ll take care of that when we get back to Michigan. I should note that we are both U.S. citizens in our sixties. Paul turned 64 last January, and had to arrange his Medicare coverage from overseas. I will turn 64 next January, and am anticipating what I will need for my Medicare application in the fall when we’ll be overseas again. We are both retired, but I still occasionally teach a course. All of those details affect what ends up on our business to-do list.
A couple of weeks before we left Helsinki, we made a to-do list that looked something like this:
Kim & Paul:
second COVID booster
COVID tests before visiting vulnerable family members
podiatrist (consult about bone spur from over-use walking)
dermatologist (mole check)
post kidney stone check-up
Complete estate planning documents with attorney
Visit safe deposit box to get storage unit key and docs Kim will need to apply for Medicare
Visit storage unit; trade clothes and other items (put some back, take some out)
Pick up mail from mail service
Renew driver’s licenses with new domicile address
Renew bank cards as needed, update billing addresses
Confirm voting status with new domicile address
Arrange rental car to drive to see family in Louisville
Arrange to see other friends on trip back from Louisville
Paul only: confirm Medicare gap insurance
Prepare next stage of travel
Get motorcycle out of storage
Plan details of trip to Alaska
Prep motorcycle for long trip
Buy transponder for emergencies and learn to use it
Evaluate how and whether to post trip details on blog
Arrange transportation, 2d trip to Louisville
Buy one-way ticket from Louisville to Seattle
First, it should be obvious from seeing this list that it would feel overwhelming, but after almost five months of slow travel having virtually no business-like things to deal with, doing so many all at once felt surreal. We couldn’t keep track of what we had to do when, and there was something to do almost every day. We weren’t used to that. I had also started remote-teaching a two-hour weekly class in early May (1-3am in Helsinki, which is 6-8pm in Michigan/Florida, where the students are), and scheduling everything got so confusing I kept forgetting I had a class on Monday nights, and I kept having to reschedule. Gone were the long days where we could choose to do nothing, or just take a walk, or visit someplace new. And, intertwined into the scheduling of business was scheduling visits with family and friends – something that was wonderful, but a bit overwhelming as well, just because it all bunched up. My only regular appointment on the road - my ukelele lesson - has fallen by the wayside for the time-being because there is no time. Everything feels topsy-turvy.
I think we knew all of this business would take a lot of time & energy, but I didn’t foresee that some of it would spawn more business. For example, medical. Overall, we were both in better health when we had our annual medical check-up than either of us was when we left. Months of walking daily, eating well, and relaxing resulted in great lab numbers and lower weight. But a few new issues arose from our nomadic life. For me, this was a new hip issue (visit to orthopedic doctor), persistent cough (either post-COVID or four springtimes of allergies, resulting in a scheduled lung function test and possibly allergy testing), and foot surgery to remove the bone spur.
We are hoping that a lot of these things were one-time. We had not completely switched to the new domicile address before we left, and we had also postponed the final estate planning. So those will hopefully not be annual events. But the medical check-ups and visits will likely always feel bunched up, and at our age, new issues are likely to arise. Unlike in our former lives, we can no long spread all the check-ups throughout the year, but will need to unnaturally schedule them all together. I think we can live with that trade-off.
Paul’s on the road again already – he drove off on the motorcycle Saturday and, after spending a few days with his dad, he is off to Alaska. I’ll be here another month, then off to Louisville, then late in July we’ll meet in Seattle. Hopefully, when we are both back on the road, we won’t think of more things we forgot to do!
In the next post, we’ll discuss the emotional upsides and downsides of being back in the U.S.A. and our home base.