Empty Nester Cruise
By Beth Nast
I’m of the belief that all stages should be marked by something remarkable. In that vain, entering empty nest-hood caused my husband and I to consider how we should mark the fact that our youngest of three boys was sailing off to college in the fall. We debated the pros and cons of travel to all kinds of locales, renting an upscale mobile home to explore a few National Parks, sign up for cooking classes in Italy, bike through Amsterdam. Alas, since Barcelona was on our hit list, the trigger was pulled as we booked a small Windjammer cruise to sail from Lisbon to Barcelona.
Expressing my feelings as “bittersweet” one friend commented on Facebook, “It’s all sweet, nothing bitter”, but she is from Sweden, where emotions play out differently than those whose ancestors hail from Eastern European Jewish descent. We wear sadness on our sleeves and look for pathos in every otherwise happy occasion.
I’d like to say the next stage will be filled with travel and excitement, because that is so very true. To prepare for it, in the usual type-A approach I spent a talk-filled hour with a career coach who specializes in the retirement puzzle, attended a group class at my synagogue with newly darned empty nesters, read books on the subject and blogged voraciously on the subject. And yet, with all the pieces in place: money to spend, a loving husband to share life with, good health, hobbies, friends… the cold hard facts remain unmovable. No matter the positive lens which I happily employ, the future consists of a few difficult emotions you can’t ignore, like missing your sandbox children who now live so far away.
So as we set sail this fall from Lisbon to Barcelona I will enjoy the sweet alongside the bitter, knowing how human it is to balance the two together.