Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2 1413x483Walking slowly around my sweet new ride, hand slowly brushing the polished surface, my friend Ron raised his eyebrows and asked, “Do you think you might be having a midlife crisis?”

“Well I certainly hope so, otherwise what is the point?!”  Why else would a man in his 30’s buy a sports car?

Real Men Get Therapy

I noticed a pattern in myself, and had no idea how to change it.  I would date someone, get unreasonably attached, and then say and do things to make her want to leave.  The leaving was always painful, this time was no different

I cleansed.  I drank juice.  I fasted.  I did yoga.  I threw myself into work

And I started weekly visits with a therapist, a lovely woman that lived at the heart of Haight and Ashbury when it was cool to live at the heart of Haight and Ashbury.  In the history of therapists, there is probably none better

She asked me hard questions, and made me talk about things I didn’t want to talk about.  I hated it.  Harder than exercising, harder than saving money, harder than not eating that last piece of cheese cake, I struggled to get the words out

But she pulled it out of me, word after word.  Sometimes I lied, and she called me out on it.  She saw through everything

Months go by.  From January to August, I flew over 300,000 miles for work all over Asia and Europe.  Work, exercise, therapy.  Work, exercise, therapy.  This was my life

Out of the blue one day, my therapist said, “I want you to start dating.”

You’ve probably figured it out by now; when I do something, I do it all the way

Experiments in Hedonism

Rob: “I can’t get over how cute the girls in this city are”
Mike: “I know. It’s like the opposite of inbreeding. The hottest one percent from around the world migrate to this gene pool.

Swingers, about Los Angeles

It’s hard to spend money when you are traveling for work all the time.  Without truly internalizing it, I was financially independent and continuing to amass stockpiles of cash.

Travel at work largely stopped, as we had now fully launched the development of a project in Japan.  All I had to do was monitor progress via phone.  I could be anywhere.  Why not Los Angeles?

Just after the market crashed in 2008, I drove my Porsche down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to LA and moved into a friend’s house.

Somewhere in California

Somewhere in Northern California

I’d work out of coffee shops and talk with women at Whole Foods or the beach or at yoga.  I dated a couple professional models, a tattoo artist, a minor celebrity, and went to parties at the Playboy Mansion and in the Hollywood Hills.  I even joined a small punk rock band.

I was experimenting with ways to answer, “What do you do?” A friend of mine remarked at the time, “I know guys who lie and say they are a Doctor or a Lawyer to get girls.  You are the only person I’ve ever known that says he is unemployed.  And it works!”

It was a lot of fun, and oddly therapeutic.  Life was good in every way

Working for the Man

The Man giveth, and the Man taketh away.  I was asked to return to Seattle to begin a new project

I drove the Porsche back north, the first time I had driven in months.  Why drive, when everything was within a short bike ride and the weather is always perfect?  The morning I arrived in Seattle, I handed the keys to a professional specialty car shop and they sold it within 2 weeks.  I would never own a car again

Despite the higher cost of LA living, I still didn’t spend very much.  And I continued to plow cash into the stock market through the market decline of 2008 and 2009.  Buying stock during the best sale I’ll probably ever see was a priority.

I may have been experimenting with hedonism, but I was still no fool (well, at least not in this case.)  The Porsche I bought was 4 years old with 6,000 miles on it, and had spent most of its life in a collector’s garage.  When I sold it, mileage had risen to 12,000.  My total loss on the vehicle was about $15k

My focus on buying stock in the down turn was so great, I took out a car loan rather than pay cash because I wanted the cash flow.  In a sense, I used leverage to buy stock.  Return on investment was much greater than $15k

The Ghost of Christmas Past

New work project, new work partner, new work city.

This time it was Taipei

Just before Christmas I was in Taiwan, and one evening I was looking through my phone when I saw Winnie’s phone number.  I took a moment, and asked myself, “How do I feel about Winnie at this moment?”  Neutral.  I called and invited her for tea

The tea must have been good.  8 months later, we said, “I do

Issues

We both had issues that contributed to our two year hiatus.  Winnie’s father disappeared when she was 10, and she lived in an orphanage for two years until her mother was able to get back on her feet and bring her home.  Her drive to be independent is as strong as it comes

Returning to Taipei after our falling out, Winnie explored the job market.  Smart, articulate, and witty, her skills were in strong demand.  She landed a job that saw her income soar

Saving 50% of her income, thriving in everything she did, Winnie was alive and strong.

missing_pieceI called up my lovely hippie therapist

“Winnie and I have been seeing each other.  Everything in life is wonderful, I can’t think of a single thing I would change.  Even if we aren’t together, life will still be awesome.  Yet, I love life more with Winnie in it”

Trying her best to restrain her enthusiasm, she replied, “Jeremy, the way you always talked about Winnie, even though you were angry and hurt… now, I should probably not say this, but…  I always felt like you and Winnie were soul mates.”

“When something like that happens, if you don’t have the skills to handle something so strong, it can be terrifying.  You have those skills now, and I give you my full blessing”

Winnie was ready to rely on someone else.  All of my fears were gone.  We agreed to be each other’s Missing Piece, completely whole together or apart.

The Final Stretch

Team Curry Cracker was back together again, better and stronger than ever

We spent the next 3 years in Seattle, enjoying life and depositing nearly my whole paycheck into the brokerage account.

We could have spent much more, but we’d both been there done that.  If we wanted something, we bought it.  If we wanted to do something, we did it.  It just so happened that we already had everything we wanted, and none of those were things.  We’d tested the idea that spending more meant a better life, and discovered it wasn’t always true

A few days after my final work project was announced publicly, I submitted my resignation.

We haven’t looked back

—-

Our Journey to Early Retirement was an exciting and wild ride.  I wouldn’t change one bit of it

Through it all we discovered ourselves and each other, and gained the emotional and financial strength to tackle any problem that comes our way

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read the rest in the series:
Episode 1 – Clawing Out of Debt
Episode 2 – Lifestyle Inflation
Episode 3 – Paying Dues
Episode 4 – A Tale of Two Cities

Retire Early. Travel the World.

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