It’s strange how big changes in life come about.
There you are dreaming, planning, wishing for years and years about how things might be different, but never really able to fully comprehend what it would feel like when they actually were different because it always felt so far away; like for most people, it was always ‘one day’, always ‘not today’. A bit more off the mortgage, a bit more in the bank (we’ve only owned our own house together for a year). For us, it was always about the money; the perceived security, rarely about the quality. We were apart from weeks on end, often miserable.
Within the past 3 months, its all changed. I have a genetic kidney disease that I didn’t know I had and which might not allow me to be riding my bike and eating KFC until I’m 103 like I had planned, my youngest child turns 18 years of age, Keith has taken voluntary redundancy and is, as from this week, unemployed for the first time in 30 years.
It’s fair to say that Keith and I are quite different people (despite sharing an autism diagnosis). Keith is what you might call ‘risk averse’. ‘I’m an engineer’, he says, ‘ I have to look for the reasons that something might not work’. And he does, frequently. I, on the other hand, am a kind of low attention span Dill the Dog, always diving with 100% enthusiasm into some new, short-lived and often ill-conceived passion. Keith has mainly led a solitary life, doing the same job. I have had over 30 jobs, 2 kids, 2 marriages and a whole string of ‘life events’ (polite phrase for ‘poor choices’). We believe that somewhere in between the pair of us is a perfectly functioning human being.
So, we find ourselves in this new position. Overnight our income has halved, our time together has multiplied from sometimes zero hours a week to 24/7 and our sense of security has vanished.
And today we’re off on an 800 mile bike trip which we planned way before we knew that any of this was going to happen.
We have two choices here. Panic. Or just shut up and get on with it. We’ll start with the latter and reserve the right to shift to the former if we feel like it.