I am still working at finding my new rhythm in retirement. The end of work was pure craziness – but that was expected, given that it was the beginning of a new academic year, which is always a race to the finish line. My last day was exactly as I wanted it to be, with a wonderful party attended by most of my favorite people at Fordham. I didn’t have time to fully process that, given that the following morning I was headed south to the Outer Banks for a week of vacation – a wonderful retirement gift from my sister and brother-in-law. A week later, I was racing back to Long Island to my daughter’s to gather my “stuff” before heading west to my new life in Batavia.
There was so much to do. Although we had moved my furniture and dozens of boxes in during August, I hadn’t had time to unpack. So every day was filled, unpacking, arranging and rearranging, getting my art on the walls, doing homeowner activities like having the furnace serviced, the house exterior painted, having my front patio repointed, some dead trees cut down in the back yard…. I was on a mission to get things done before winter, but more importantly, to get the house ready for a housewarming party before the weather turned too cold to allow guests access to the outside.
I had dozens of thank you notes to write in the aftermath of my farewell party at work. I wanted to spend time during the week with David to “prove” that having me here was a value added for him. I had the housewarming party to plan. We also organized a Halloween party at my brother’s house. I was very, very busy. And that’s kind of very, very me. I fail miserably at doing nothing.
I did make some strides in creating a new life. My friends here had formed a knitting group a year before, and were patiently awaiting my arrival to join. So within a week or so of my arrival, I was initiated into the Knit Wits. I went to yoga every week with my friend, Mary. I bought a piano and found a teacher with the help of my friend, Margy.
But, I also made the trip to New York City in September, October, November, and twice in December. Even though I was retired, and ever so much more rested and relaxed, I still didn’t feel like I had reclaimed my life. My friend Anthony would send me texts on the 2nd of each month – You’ve been retired for one month. For two months. For three months. I began to feel a little panicked. I wasn’t reading. I wasn’t exercising or dancing. Wasn’t making jewelry. I wasn’t even thinking about writing a dissertation. I wasn’t blogging. My time was filled. I was not bored or discontent or unhappy in any way. But I didn’t exactly feel in control either. I was carried along by my life, just as I always had been.
I totally enjoyed the holiday season. I decorated inside completely and outside too. I baked a zillion cookies and gave them away. I shopped and wrapped. Had my girlfriends from high school over. Participated in a progressive wine/appetizer party with my knitting friends. Went back to Fordham for their holiday party. Virginia for Christmas. NYC for the New Year. And then it was January.
A year ago, I had made plans with my sister and brother-in-law to rent a condo for January in Cape Coral, FL. A year ago, it had seemed like a really good idea. I would have the freedom to disappear for the whole month. No work obligations. Escape the northern cold. Why not? Well, when it was time to go, what I really wanted to do was just stay home. Stay put. Figure out what the rhythm of my days was without goals like housewarming parties and holidays. But since it was already planned and paid for, I headed south that first week in January, not to return until the end of the month.
On some levels, it was a very nice interlude. The weather was terrific. I was teaching a course at Fordham that started the second week of the month, so I had students to attend to. I was reading applications for the Admissions Department. I had taken a keyboard with me so I could practice piano every day. We did some sightseeing and enjoyed a couple of lunches with cousins who live and/or winter there. I knitted, planned another party at my brother's house, took him down for the final week of our stay. But it felt very temporary and I was eager to pick up my new life and find a routine that fit.... that wasn't frenetic....but kept me interested and content.