Cosmo and Pepper

When I sit back and reflect on this whole move to Montana, I can’t help but realize everything about it is crazy. We didn’t really have a compelling reason to move at all. We left behind friends, a place we loved, activities we loved, a nice house, and basically our entire lives. Not only that, we moved to a remote area, miles from a town and thousands of miles from family. We bought a house that’s far too big for the two of us (everyone assumes we “downsized” now that we don’t have kids living with us). And along the way we bought a car, a pair of jet skis, and gave away almost all of our furniture. Oh, and I quit my job.


I figure it’s a weird mid-life crisis or something. At least, as Laralee pointed out, I didn’t leave her for a younger woman. Or buy a super-expensive sports car. In fact, as far as mid-life crises go, it’s been a darn good time. She and I are going through all this craziness together, and she’s arguably doing the majority of the planning for it.

As long as we’re hitting the big red “reset” button on our lives, we decided to assume new identities along the way. Now that we’re in Montana, we’re no longer Jeff and Laralee. We’re Cosmo and Pepper.


It all came about a few weeks ago, when she and I were sitting on the couch in our family room (the couch is the only piece of furniture we actually kept, unless you count a piano as furniture). Most of our house was packed up, so we didn’t have much to do as we waited for Moving Day. She turned to me and said, “What if we come up with new names for ourselves in Montana?” I was a little taken aback, but it sounded like a fun idea. Perhaps more surprisingly, it was an idea coming from her. Most of the time I’m the one who thinks up the strange things we say or do. So I nodded, and she followed up with, “I think I’ll be Pepper. What will your name be?”

I wasn’t really ready for that, so I thought on it and eventually came up with Cosmo. We laughed about it, not sure how serious we were, but I think both of us were toying with it in our minds, wondering if we could pull it off. I mean, those are some fairly weird names, and unlike pretty much every nickname in the world, there’s not a story behind them or a long history or some reason we can say “Oh yeah, everyone calls me Cosmo.”

Fast forward a few weeks, and we arrived in Montana. The first time we’d meet people in the area would be at church, the day after we moved into the house. As we were driving to church that Sunday morning, I asked “Are you sure we’re doing this? Because once we introduce ourselves, we’re committed.” She agreed, and we walked in the doors and officially became Cosmo and Pepper. Sure enough, we introduced ourselves that way and a few people raised an eyebrow, but we went with it. When I called contractors to come to the house for some projects, or set up an order at Home Depot, I was Cosmo. And so on.

So here we are. We’re committed. Thom asked how “serious” we were, like whether we’d use those names on our bank accounts or legal documents. Nope, these are just nicknames. For financial and legal and “official” stuff, we’ll still be Jeff and Laralee because we’re not going to actually change our names. But to everyone else, I just smile and say “Oh yeah, everyone calls me Cosmo.”