I have three more days to go to work. I am pretty much dumbfounded by that concept. All the internal debating, considering, planning, and deciding is over, leaving only the doing. The logging off the computer, packing up my work tote bag, and stepping out of the door for the last time.
My coworkers gave me a retirement party yesterday afternoon. People I worked with and supervised over the past 20 years showed up, along with current co-workers and people from community agencies that I’ve regularly consulted with over the past 5 years. I’m not much of a party person – 8 people in a room is a crowd. But I really enjoyed seeing so many people from my past and present work life, and I appreciate that they went out of their way to help me celebrate and to say goodbye.
The party made retiring real to me. I really was saying goodbye to people, some that I’ve known for more than half my life. And I know how unlikely it is that we will stay in touch. Our connection is through our work, and not through any other aspects of our lives. These are good, hard-working, solid folks, who spend their lives doing thankless jobs trying to make the world a little better for people, and I am lucky to have known and worked with them.
People kept asking me yesterday what I had planned, did I have big trips in my future, what would I do without coming to work. I still don’t know what to say when asked that. In an earlier post I wrote that since deciding to retire, I felt like I was living in a snow globe, with the snow still swirling, and I didn’t know what the scene would turn out to be once the snow settled. The snow hasn’t settled yet. So all I can truthfully say, is that I’m going to go forth and live my life, without trying to fit 40 hours of work into it each week. And I’m pleased to know that I don’t want to leave the life I have here, unlike a coworker who intends to flee her life and rent a flat in the south of France when she retires next month.
I might want to do something like that eventually, might want to plug myself into another life in another land. I know I want to return to Ireland, and to visit Iona in Scotland, and now Cornwall is also calling to me. But I am content in my world. My friend Beth eagerly awaits my being able to play with her at her studio any day of the week. I love my weekly harp lesson, and my evening recorder ensemble class. Our harp ensemble starts meeting next week, so again I get to do battle with the sight-reading demons and in the process, make music with others. I’ve signed up for the yoga class I promised myself I would take as soon as I wasn’t working. My garden awaits my removing the heat and drought-tortured summer crops and planting the soil-building green manure, and garlic, and the winter’s worth of spinach, lettuce and arugula in my grow tunnels. Mornings are finally cooler, and perfect for walking the greenway with my dog and watching the day-by-day changes in the trees and the meadows as summer loses its grip and autumn takes hold. Fall crops are already coming in at my Saturday farmers’ market – how could I possibly miss Dane’s dinosaur kale, or Carl’s fall potatoes and red-cored chantenay carrots, or Jennifer’s late tomatoes, or Mindy’s lettuce and fresh eggs, her”Gifts from the Girls”?
No, this life, the one right here awaiting me, is sweet, and good, and is spread out before me, waiting to be plunged into and savored, swirling snow and all.