I’m at a writing crossroads, having written 65 posts about my trip to Italy, Spain, and Malta. Next up, Belize and Guatemala. But first, some exciting news. I’m going to spend the summer in the UK. Yes, the whole of June, July, and August!
It all sprouted, as many trips do, from something completely unrelated.
I learned that the guy I dated when I lived in the UK 10 years ago had died of cancer. I’ll call him Angus. He was only 55. He was a Yorkshire man, so he had a great accent, and he was a maths teacher at the Jewish Free School in London, the largest Jewish high school outside of Israel. He and my friend Sam were friends, and Sam introduced us. We hadn’t been in touch for years; our relationship had been fun but not serious and we knew we’d never be able to live on the same continent due to visa issues. He was such a crusty but sweet guy, if you can imagine those two characteristics in one person.
I was exchanging emails about Angus with Sam, who is originally from Bemidji, Minnesota. And then he mailed and asked if I would like to house sit for him while he and his family are back in Minnesota for the month of July. Sam teaches at Eton, the posh boarding school for boys founded in 1440 by Henry VI. Sam lives in nearby Windsor, just west of London.
Of course I had to think about it—not.
I said yes, then got to thinking … why not take Lynn up on her invitation to let me to stay with her and Richard in Scotland? August is a good month for weather up there. And as long as I’m over there, why not try to get permission to work remotely, cut down to 80% time, stay the whole summer, and travel around on my time off? I could get to Croatia or Munich for a long weekend on cheap Ryanair flights.
I started making lists. I could rent out my condo. What about my plants? Could I invite a friend to visit me in Windsor? Ask Sam. Where would I stay in June—could I rent a canal boat on the Thames? How close is Windsor to Highcleer Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed? Forward mail to Vince. Cancel newspaper. Would I store my car? Put in remote work request.
Late Friday afternoon, I impulsively went on Craig’s List and contacted the first advertiser I found. A couple from Minneapolis who retired to Florida wanted to be in the Twin Cities for the summer to visit their children and grandchildren. I killed myself cleaning and arranging things on Saturday so I could take alluring photos of the condo. We exchanged a lot of emails, and one of their daughters came by on Sunday to see the place. They wanted in, and my condo association management company would manage the rental so I wouldn’t have to deal with an overflowing toilet from Scotland. With a renter I wouldn’t make a profit, but I wouldn’t lose money. Everything was perfect!
Except, I didn’t yet have permission to work remotely. That’s when the What Ifs set in. We have lots of people who work remotely. But what if I was the first person my employer said no to? Would I file a grievance? That would be awful. I could ask for an unpaid leave for the summer—would they grant it? Could I afford that? What if they said no to that? Would I quit? I can’t afford to quit! I would have to tell the renters the deal was off. And around and around my mind raced.
In the back of my mind, I think I knew all would be well. Looking at the facts, there was no reason my employer would allow other people to work remotely—from North Carolina, South Africa, Los Angeles, Arizona, Italy, Colorado. But the mind wants to be in charge. My mind wanted to have answers, to have certainty, even if that meant a no.
My request was granted–no drama!–so away I go.