BOWERS: Sailing away seems like perfect retirement dream

09/20/2013 12:00 AM

09/20/2013 8:23 PM

My husband and I have come to that time of life when we are starting to think about how we will spend our retirement, though retirement is at least seven years out for us, and that’s an optimistic estimate. Still, these things require planning, and since all good plans begin with dreams, my thoughts have turned recently to all of the places we might choose to live during our declining years.

I blame Denny’s for this. Until I reached the age necessary for ordering a senior version of the Grand Slam, I did not give a single thought to retirement. After all, my husband and I have two teenage sons at home. There is still college to pay for, housing prices are only now starting to recover from the 2008 mortgage crisis, and we like our jobs.

So retirement seemed far away to me until, about a week or so after my last birthday, we ended up at Denny’s for breakfast and there, in indelible black ink (was the font size a little larger than the rest of the menu, or was that just my imagination?) was my current age under “Seniors.” While I might have greeted this new turn of events with shock or even outrage, I was in fact somewhat prepared for it.

My husband and I have been receiving AARP newsletters, which we did not order, for several years now, and have friends and relatives who were close to my age when they retired. And since there is only one cure I know of for old age, and it isn’t one I’m prepared to embrace, I have decided to view my impending dotage from an optimistic standpoint.

So Denny’s, while not high on most people’s list of life-altering eating experiences, has in fact been instrumental in helping to shape my new dream of retiring in seven to 10 years and sailing to the Marquesas Islands with my husband, where we will settle into island life as we live aboard our boat.

It is true that we have never been to the Marquesas and that I have read about the islands only casually. I have, however, seen pictures. When I searched for “Marquesas” on Google a few weeks ago, my dream reached a new level of determination. Even my kids, whose inheritance will be squandered if we ever really embark on such a journey, were in favor of the plan.

“Look at these pictures, guys,” I called out as I sat in front of the computer, images of a blue-tinged paradise on the screen.

“Wow,” they said, looking over my shoulder. “But we probably wouldn’t get to go because of college and stuff.”

“I know,” I said. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Brigitte Bowers is a lecturer in the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced.

Never mind that there are only moorings available or that the Marquesas are far from any other inhabitable islands. Forget that my husband is prone to seasickness and that the thought of enduring a storm at sea fills me with terror. This is a dream, after all, and dreams are always fraught with challenges.

And so we are now reading everything we can find on the Marquesas. We are ignoring movies like “The Life of Pi” and are instead focusing on movies like “Kon-Tiki.”

We are, of course, in the early planning stages.

This means that we know nothing at all about the Marquesas, or sailing on open water, or our capacity to live only a few feet from each other 24 hours a day for weeks on end, but we like the idea (though I am not so sure we’re keen about the last part).

But my husband and I are, at least, thinking about retirement – and I owe it all to the senior menu at Denny’s.

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