The future

I was in a pretty bleak state of mind last week, and I was pondering, “What’s next?” When the dust has settled and the last check has been signed and I’m ready to quit my job and sell our house in California and move to Pennsylvania to start the B&B, what next?

Before Dawn, I had a fairly clear plan to retire early to northern California and work on the Great American Novel (or not). Once Dawn entered the picture, the plan shifted to “retire early to Pennsylvania and restore the mansion.” When Dawn’s father passed away, the plan shifted again to “retire in five years and restore the mansion and run a B&B.” When we found the average innkeeper worked 80-hour weeks, we changed “retire” to “move.”

But we still had our house in California, our safety net, our “exit strategy.” Now the project has taken that, too. As it stands, we’ll finish this restoration with nothing — 14 years of savings wiped out; starting from scratch. I put together a business plan for the B&B, but I might as well be looking into a crystal ball. The fact is, I no longer have a long-term plan, nor any financial security, and that scares the hell out of me.

Barring any sudden shocks to the tourist industry — like September 11 — the business plan says we’ll be profitable running the B&B. But — and this is a big but — what if we don’t like running a B&B? What if we just spent all this time and money and hassle for nothing? On the bright side, the mansion will be restored, but at what cost?

They say experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want, and I’m getting a lot of experience here. The future will bring what it will — as it always has, with no heed for my plans or aspirations. Perhaps this task was given to me to teach me to be a little more flexible, a little less apprehensive, and a lot more appreciative. Or perhaps these were just the random cards dealt me.

Whatever the reason, I have to play out this hand to see what’s next. Again, barring any major disasters, I’m fairly confident that I can handle any situation. We’ve got insurance for everying — death, disability, property, liability, even construction risk — and I can always get another computer programming job. But I just wish I knew what the future held.

Maybe someday I’ll look back and laugh at what I wrote. Or maybe I’ll kick myself for not paying attention to the signs that, in hindsight, will have been obvious. Or maybe, if I’m really lucky, I’ll be so busy I won’t even have time to ponder such things..