As I ended the phone call, the lyrics of the famous Eagles song 'Hotel California' sprang to mind "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."
When you have your own business and a house with a mortgage you are pretty much embedded into the 'system'. There's your home address, a landline phone number for ADSL Internet, mobile phone numbers, insurance policies, council rates, utility bills, vehicle registration, email addresses, subscriptions to various publications, bank accounts, credit cards and credit ratings.
The 'system' recognises you and classifies you by the sum total of all of these things. It makes the 'system' happy that you can be easily located, you're playing by the rules and you are a fully functioning member of society.
What the 'system' has difficulty with, is when you want to check out and leave.
50% of my time over the last two weeks has been spent making phone calls and sending emails and scanned documents to all of the above and more. The insurance and Internet companies always ask why you're leaving, I'm guessing that's so if you reply that you've found a better deal, they can at least offer to match it. So it gave me great pleasure to simply say I'm selling everything and moving to the Mediterranean to buy a yacht. Most of the operatives on the other end of the phone seemed genuinely happy for me, but once or twice I did detect a tone of wistful jealousy.
The banks were the hardest to deal with. It felt as if I was trying to alter the course of a medium sized planet. They wanted paperwork filled in which could only be snail mailed to a physical address, then it would take up to 10 to 15 business days to finalise things. Then another 30 days to issue the final statements. They simply could not get their heads around the idea that by December 18th I would not have a physical address and that I was unlikely to have one for at least the next 5 months. Even after that I would be sailing somewhere on a yacht that I still had no clue as to which country I'd be buying it in.
Dealing with government departments was interesting too, especially the Australian Tax Office. In Australia each individual has to submit their own personal tax return every year and the tax year ends June 30th. This means that sometime in July 2018 (wherever I may be) I have to log into the online tax department and submit my numbers. For security purposes and to confirm that I am who I say I am, they need to send a text to my mobile number. So for that one single thing I have to have a mobile phone and a sim card that is cheap to use in Europe. The good news is that it will be the last time I will have to submit an Australian tax return and there's a great possibility that my mobile phone might be swimming with the fishes as soon as that task is completed.
Dealing with the utility bills was not too much hassle, simply due to the sale of our house the conveyancer handled the finalising of local council rates and the water company. I only had to deal with the electricity company and to my surprise there was a refund of $157.13 owing to us. But, and there's always a but, they could not simply refund the money electronically, they had to mail a cheque to a physical address. Which brought some humour yesterday evening when our hosts Oscar and Sue arrived home from work to announce that somehow I had a letter in their mailbox.
Our cars were relatively straight forward too. Aannsha's car has been re-registered to our son Luke which gives us full use of it, right up until the moment of farewell at the airport. On the day of departure, we'll pick him up at his house, all three of us will drive to the airport and then Luke can drive his 'new' car home. My work car had to be sold to cover the cost of paying out the lease on it and our good friend and dive buddy Ian Johnson decided to treat himself to a relatively new car.
It's now just 3 sleeps until we leave Australia.
I'm pretty confident that we have finalised all the paperwork and accounts and that we have informed our only remaining bank that our ATM cards will soon be used in various countries like Spain, Gibraltar, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia and the UK.
I'm also fairly confident that when Aannsha and I do our test pack tomorrow, that all of our possessions, that is now the sum total of our lives, will fit into the four suitcases and two carry on bags.
It's been very intense, sometimes frustrating, quite challenging and occasionally confronting. But there's a saying I use whenever there's a big challenge to overcome...
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice. And she said, 'we are all just prisoners here, of our own device' And in the master's chambers, They gathered for the feast They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can't kill the beast.
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