No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks!
It may be February 2, and while Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter, it dd not matter to me for today was my last day of working at my employer. Come February 5, the following Monday, the day after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles, my wife Arlyn and I headed out in my brand-new Honda CRV embarking south to Gaithersburg, MD on the first leg of our planned two month cross-country road trip.
February 2 was also the day of my retirement party dinner and while I received a nice writing journal and personalized pen from my colleagues I knew and they probably knew that the likelihood of ever seeing each other again was nil. We all got along okay, but half the group had very different politics than I, and it was not the culture of the organization, starting from the top, to really share one’s personal lives, or at least I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. It could have been different but I learned a long time ago to accept it for what it was. Heat trickles down, not up. The cheery hello, how are you? we exchanged as I came in the door a few minutes before 9:00 (usually) was about all the warmth that occurred during the day.
So on February 5 we took off.
I had interest in exploring cities and towns like Wilmington, NC, New Orleans and Savannah, GA, one of the first planned cities in North America, the desert and wide open plains of Southwest Texas three hours south of El Paso, and Memphis, home of blues legends BB King, Elvis and Johnny Cash.
We want to move where the skies are blue and the weather is warm, so we visited with friends in Tucson and Santa Fe who have made the move already from British Columbia, Wrentham, Franklin and Shrewsbury, MA. That was another reason for the trip to the Southeast, Florida and Southwestern states.
My wife Arlyn Hope Halpern had just completed her memoir ” Dancing into the Light: a spiritual journey of healing” and she had already presented at a 55+ residential retirement community on the Cape, and at a local library. As part of her pre-launch, we had set up author events in New Jersey, Virginia, Florida and Arizona for the months of February and March, as well as a table at the Tucson Book Festival in downtown Tucson on March 10 advertised as the third largest book festival in the country, with 100,000 attendees. With a sell sheet, boxes of books and a fascinating story to tell we took off.
Even before Punxsultawny Phil cast his shadow, we planned our escape from a frigid January, timing it to avoid whatever February and March had in store for Franklin. We timed it well as I watched from the Weather Channel how Boston got hammered by three nor’easters in a 13 day span while we were walking the beach in Pensacola, hiking the Catalina Mountains near Tucson and walking the waterfront in Wilmington. Life was good.
So the trip was a trip to see America, kick off my retirement, conduct a book tour and escape the cold, cloudy and stormy, snowy New England. We were hoping we could find our future home.