By K.K. Beck
I have been retired from my last job ever, for two and a half months. I liked my job (except for the occasional pointless meeting, which I usually attended remotely with the phone on mute while I filed or read the newspaper) so I didn’t feel as if I were escaping from a soul crushing grind or ghastly office politics. I just knew that I was never going to work again, which I found impossible to believe.
I knew I wouldn’t be like those fake retired people in AARP or investment services ads who are kayaking and climbing mountains and surfing and starting glamorous new careers in four inch heels or becoming wildlife photographers in the Amazon.
I am holed up at home, reading three or four books a week. I’ve decided to read all of Anthony Trollope’s novels in order. When I read about something or someone interesting in a nonfiction book, I put it on a list of things to look up and read about somewhere else. I know a lot about Rasputin and about British spies in revolutionary Russia right now.
I watch movies in the middle of the day. Yesterday I saw Myrna Loy and William Powell in Evelyn Prentice, a pre-production code combination thriller and weepy about adultery and murder. A wisecracking Una Merkel playing Myrna’s best friend.
My closets are now completely organized. (The sweaters are all rolled into little tubes so I can see all of them when I open the drawer because they aren’t in stacks, something I read about in a peculiar book that also says when you throw things out you should thank them for having made you happy, advice I have resisted taking on board.) My jewelry is organized too. All the gold and silver chains that used to be in little knots are now threaded through drinking straws. Eventually, I plan to organize everything I own – yes, even all those photographs loose in boxes. But not until I feel like it.
I am never in a hurry. I have stopped multitasking and going into a room to do something, then getting distracted by something else that needs to be done. Instead of driving to the grocery store, the library, the post office and the bank, I walk there, looking at other people’s front yards. I have the time to do all the routine maintenance of life slowly and properly. I wake up in the morning realizing there is nothing I really have to do. This is heady stuff.
I remember feeling so sorry for my grandmother when I was a teenager and she was retired. Surely, I thought, she must be going nuts just puttering around her house all day and maybe pulling a few dead leaves off the African violets once in a while. Now, I completely get it.
It feels divine. And also oddly familiar. Retiring turned out to be just like summer vacations when I was a kid, spending time lying in the grass and looking up at the light coming through the leaves of a tree, and maybe joining the summer reading club at the library.
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