How did I go from full-time videographer to a semi-retired wanderer on a beer budget?

of no
fixed address

Teary goodbyes and reboots

I’m lying on a leather couch in a rural Tuscan cottage, waiting for my sister and brother in law to arrive from the airport. I had woken up in Cairo the day before, flown to Rome for an overnighter, then taken the train to Tuscany.

My sister’s flight was delayed and I’m starving because I thought they would be here way sooner with some groceries (and I’m not a very good planner sometimes.)

This is the first moment I’ve had to jot down some thoughts about this big adventure I have embarked upon.

I am currently of no fixed address. I have no more job, no more apartment, and I’ve said my teary goodbyes to my friends back home in Victoria, BC, Canada. All that’s left of my worldly possessions are a few boxes in my mom’s attic.

In the past four years I’ve lived through a pandemic (solo), a devastating heartbreak, a job layoff, a reno-viction from my apartment, three close friends moving away, two cancer scares and my horse dropping dead. At one point I realized if a clown had invited me into the woods, I would have just gone.

It’s a funny thing, though … being driven to the edge. At some point you either go mad, or adapt. I adapted. I’m not sure what happened, but I went through it and came out the other side.

I recently learned that butterfly larvae turn to goo before they emerge from the cocoon. I WAS that gooey butterfly larvae. I was now ready to spread my damn wings and fly.


Layoffs, pensions and serendipity

So how did I end up in Tuscany and what is this big adventure anyways?

Well, my dad had planted the seed of early retirement with me. He had retired, at 55, from teaching and he encouraged me to look into doing the same. At the time, before the layoff, I thought I’d have to work until I was 58 to get even the most meagre pension from my workplace and figure it out from there.

I’d always loved travel and adventure — I’d been travelling since I could remember and had visited 30 countries so far, and wanted more. I had crunched some numbers and figured if I saved & invested a bunch of money, did some house sitting abroad in affordable countries, I could squeak by on my teeny weeny pension. And maybe even figure out a way to get some passive income happening.

Even though I had thrived in my job as a university videographer, things were changing. Our beloved director had retired and the changes that came after were not promising. My job started to feel stale and I felt my mind wandering to “what ifs.”

Then the layoffs happened, and I was surprised to find that I was on the chopping block along with nine of my colleagues. It was a stressful and emotional time. However, along with the layoff came a large severance package — shout-out to unions — which bought four years of my life back.

I was suddenly in the fortunate position to begin my trip planning in earnest. Departure dates were decided. Many nights were spent online investigating insurance, plane fares, pension & investment planning and cell phone plans. I decided to leave just over a year from the layoff date, and soon after bought a one way ticket to Cairo to visit a friend.

This is where our story begins.