It’s early days yet – Day 7 of what I call Real Retirement, since I was on half-time at the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) since September 1. But at the end of 2017, I really retired. I’m no longer the Chief Executive Officer of JET. And I’m not sure who I am without work.
- Breakfast at 10am. I’ve always written early in the morning, but my writing time has been constrained by the need to leave for work, regardless of how the writing was going. Some days I was overjoyed to leave my substandard efforts on the page, other days my words wanted to hold onto me. But now I can stay with what I’m writing as long as I want, whether I have written ten words or a thousand, until hunger or backache makes me get up.
- No driving during peak traffic periods. No superlative quite covers the relief of not having to navigate heavy Kingston traffic. (But might I become a hermit? Might I soon refuse to go anywhere??)
- Rest. Even if I sleep poorly, there is the couch, now available for a nap anytime during the day. I do love my couch.
- Reading. Oh the joy of being able to read, anytime, all day if I want to. It’s interesting that I haven’t bought any new books, but I’m re reading the books I’ve loved most in my life. They’re old friends I haven’t seen in a while.
- The lack of a regular paycheque. Needs no amplification. Now, I’m preoccupied with the vulnerability of older people in a country with few social services. I notice old people on the street more. I’ve worked for 46 years, made what investments were possible on a salary, won some, lost some, saved what I could, but no amount of diligent saving can finance decades of life post retirement, particularly if one is in poor health. Of course, I might not have decades but few of us get to die at exactly the right time.
- Interacting with other people. However much we might think our work colleagues are annoying, however much we might complain about them, work is a social space. I miss the Jetters. Especially when I am trying to do something on a computer!
- The lack of a purpose, something bigger than myself, the feeling of being part of a movement. My brain needs something to delve into, and there is no shortage of possibilities, but my personality also needs a course of action. Work gave me a platform from which to act.
- Being at home is not particularly quiet or peaceful! I thought it would be, but every day brings noise of some kind – lawnmowers, water pumps (including ours), weed whackers, generators, garbage trucks, cesspool emptiers, motorcycles, sirens, dogs barking, the hammering, drilling and pounding of home improvement projects. You live in a city, I remind myself. But being in an air-conditioned office was much quieter. And I’m sure I’m going to yearn for an air-conditioned office in the heat of summer. (Yes, yes, I’ve heard of global warming and the need to reduce emissions from power plants…)
- For how long will there be new things to look forward to? Is “old” really a pejorative? What about words like “crone”? And the losses to come – how will I cope with those? (I can hear my son’s voice clearly – you’re not 80, Mom! Too soon to think about these things.) But I’m a person of the long game, I’m a look ahead, make-a-plan person. When my sisters decide we’ll go on a trip next year, I’m the one calling on January 3rd to make a plan. They’re the ones rolling their eyes.
Oh look. It’s lunchtime. Time to investigate the fridge. Is making my own lunch a plus or a minus? Stay tuned…