Who Knew That High School Would Be Connected To Retirement?

Sometimes you struggle to find the right way, the best way, the perfect way to set the tone. (February 27, 2016)

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.”
― Stephen King, Different Seasons

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
― Stephen King, On Writing

“They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other ever day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

I am not a homeowner. I used to be, but I am not any more and I haven’t quite decided if I ever will be again.  Been close to three years since we sold our house and now I feel a bit like a professional itinerant.

The boy who made me a father is 13 now and is 18 months away from starting high school. He told me today that his friends told him that it is important to start looking for a high school when you are in 7th grade.

He said he is concerned because he is half way through 7th grade and he hasn’t done any looking so he wanted to know if his parents had. Told me that he didn’t want to be left behind and then asked me if I was going to tell him we have to move.

I told him that I didn’t know the answer to that question because I don’t know where I want him to go to high school. It is mostly true, mostly meaning that if I had unlimited money there are some private schools that I would seriously consider.

Can’t say I would definitely send him to those any more than I can say I would definitely send him to some of the public schools that are on the table. It all requires more thought.

What I did tell him was that the advantage of not owning property is that it provides flexibility that didn’t exist before. We can look around and try to identify the best school and then do our best to move into the neighborhood.

And then I thought about what it means to have a child in high school and how much closer I am to retirement age than I once was. Thought about how it is nothing more than a concept and a dream right now and wondered what I would do if I really had enough money to retire.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Sometimes I know  and sometimes I feel and sometimes I think there is a book locked inside of me that will put me in the position to retire where I want to, when I want to.

Of course it can only happen if I write the words down and don’t keep them trapped inside.

But more often than not I take a more traditional and practical approach and think about where I should be living. The thoughts focus on places that provide a good education and affordable housing.

And then I start to see myself moving away from the beach and my home state towards the center. See myself moving back to my adopted home and setting up shop there.

I could buy a home there and be a homeowner again and I could do it more easily and faster than I can here.

Speed isn’t necessarily the biggest concern or consideration, education is. And as a semi-professional itinerant I am in a position to have more influence on what high school we call home. Can always move to the neighborhood that offers that opportunity and maybe while we are there I’ll write that book and find myself laughing because everything changed for the better.

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12 Comments

  1. Alan January 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Whenever the lottery is north of an amount worth my while to pay attention to — say, $100 million — I let my mind wander to to what I REALLY want to do with my life. And the life of my family.

    The answer is always the same. Writing and travel. Travel and writing.

    I’ve read enough of your stuff to know you do have a book in you. If you ever want a reader, I’m happy to oblige.

    • Jack January 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Writing and travel- man you have my attention. That is the kind of thing I would do with a $100 million and a harem, can’t forget the harem.

      Scratch that, it is hard enough to keep one woman happy let alone a thousand. 😉

      On a serious note, I often think about how to live a life where I could have time to do nothing but write and travel. I’d spend long periods of time around home but when the wanderlust hit I would just take off….

      That book will come one day, I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Kristen January 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Really interesting perspective, Jack. When we moved last year, school quality was the number one factor that influenced our decision. Since we both work from home, we had the flexibility to let that outstrip all others (a luxury most people don’t have and one we’re very grateful to have). What we’ve noticed is that choosing a town with schools that are diverse, inclusive, and high-performing meant that we also chose a community with great people who share our values. Funny how we never would have made that a consideration before having kids, but we’ve ended up in a place we love and hope to live for a long time.

    • Jack January 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      Sounds like a wonderful situation for your family. I have been a remote worker for years and love the opportunities it provides.

      If I could do it all over again I would have spent a couple extra bucks on the house and purchased one in the neighborhood that had the schools. Funny to think about because I knew then that school would be important but I didn’t really understand how much of an influence it would have in so many different ways.

  3. Wendy Widom January 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I often wonder what I’d do in life if money wasn’t a concern. Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids’ education was something that we could simply expect to be good (and with no hefty tuition fee attached), no matter where we live?

  4. Larry January 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    My older boy is nearing middle school. He had to switch into the elementary school he is in now because the other did not work out. We would like to move but if the schools are so good here and he is succeeding, it is hard to go through with it. So, I can appreciate your recognition that your son’s school has such a big affect on where you live.

    • Jack January 9, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Hi Larry,

      Schools are so very important. When I bought my first house my son was 10 months old. I had intended for it to be a starter home and to only live there a couple of years but the housing market shot up while the economy crashed.

      Long story longer I ended up living in a very nice house in a neighborhood where the schools weren’t up to snuff so I had to send my kids to a private school.

      In many ways it is was outstanding but if I could do it all again I would move to a place where the public school was excellent right from the start.

      A good school is invaluable.

  5. Stan Faryna January 8, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    You can work it out. That’s what you do.

  6. D. A. Wolf January 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    What an interesting perspective not only on home ownership but on parenting, viewing the aging process as our children mature, and the notion of retirement.

    For some of us – a matter of both the economy and life after divorce – retirement is the distant “American dream” the way home ownership was also once the proximate “American dream.” Your son is wise to be raising these issues at his age an thinking ahead, and freed of home ownership, you do indeed have a freedom and flexibility with many advantages.

    Beyond that? Yeah, we’re getting older. Let’s hope we’re getting wiser, too.

    • Jack January 9, 2014 at 11:36 am

      I sometimes wonder if retirement is nothing but a dream. I had a house and if I want to one day I will again, but retirement I am not so certain about.

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