“I don’t know
But I’ve been told
If you keep on dancing
You’ll never grow old. . .”
Steve Miller, “Dance, Dance, Dance”
We’ve never done this before. I don’t know what to expect.
He is the one who always worked a full-time job. I was the stay-at-home mother/part-time news reporter and columnist, with an established beat. I loved my jobs–both of them. He loved his, and was very good at what he did.
Fast forward to a nest cleared of offspring, a 2,000-mile move from Wisconsin to Seattle for his work, an end to my coveted criminal court beat for a daily Wisconsin newspaper, and a woman with a whole lot of new time on her hands. At least the concept was cool.
I failed miserably at staying home. There were no young ones to care for and I was not disciplined enough to write that novel I had planned. (Since then I have started and made it halfway through two of them. I have not given up on either–yet.)
After our move I went to work as an unpaid intern for the company that employed my husband. After six months I signed on as a paid contractor, working for a science fiction magazine. About a year after that I was hired to work as a full-time employee for trade publications in another department at the same company.
It’s been a while since that job went away. Since then I have used my time to learn a whole lot about poetry, as a writer and reader; countless culinary techniques; the ins and outs of selling on an internet auction site; vintage jewelry lines and their designers; authors I had not previously read. I rarely have an idle day.
And now, the time I have looked forward to the most is just around the corner. My partner, who has spent his career editing other people’s work, is putting down his red ink pen, walking away from his galleys, and coming home to play. For good.
When I first learned of the retirement offer from his company, I was dancing on sunshine in cloudy Seattle. “Oh, the things we can do,” I said and repeated during the first two months after the big reveal. Then, with the final day a little more than a month away, I began to pluck some of the stars out of my eyes and, uh, panic. A little. Tell me that is normal, yes?
Troublesome questions began to appear without warning. As I wandered through the grocery store one assaulted me with: “So, you think you should go back to buying Ramen noodles, like in the meager days?”
I was walking through the living room when the television winked and I heard: “You know your rule about never having me turned on during the day time? Did you notice that is not the case on weekends, when he is around?” I swear the damn thing winked at me.
At the doctor’s office I heard an oh-so-faint whisper: “How long do you think you two have left together, you know, to do all this fun stuff you have planned?” I had two rapid-fire answers for this one: “How would I know?” and “That’s rude!”
But the questions keep coming, carrying in the doubt and setting it down at my feet.
Will we be able to maintain our modest but comfortable lifestyle? Will medical problems come between us and our travel plans and budget? Will we get on each others’ nerves even worse than we ever have during the nearly 26 years we have been married? Is that even possible?
And what if he does not want the same things I want? Scary, I know! Not to mention selfish. It barely occurs to me to worry if I will want the same things he wants.
Then there is that obnoxious talking, singing, gun-shooting, dragon-slaying, oversized television. What if my final years are marred by having to listen to it in the background day in, day out? This, I think, is my greatest fear of all. (Have I mentioned I make no claim of rational thinking or priorities at times like this?)
So here’s the deal: I invite you to ride along on the “We will rock this retirement tour!” This blog will be my “retirement” journal, without a lock or key. Wide open book.
It will address, out loud and without hesitation, this coming time in our lives when we literally (within financial reason) can choose to spend our time whatever way we choose.
Hop aboard! Wishing all of us a smooth or, at least, an interesting ride.