Though I stopped working in June, I have only begun to feel retired and to understand that this new life is my new reality. As I was leaving behind work, colleagues, and a paycheck, Sheila was applying for jobs to replace hers, which was ending. Her company lost their contract in New Mexico and she and all her colleagues scrambled for a place with either one of the companies that won the new contract or with their current employer in another state.
In August we learned that Sheila would be promoted and transferred to Atlanta, effective September 9. I had made plans before all the uncertainty set in to spend September in Vermont at a women’s fitness facility. We managed to make those commitments mesh and began our life in Atlanta together in early October.
Everyones’ first months of retirement are unsettled. What do we do with all the unscheduled hours? How do we replace the effortless socialization of meetings and hallway conversations? Can we manage financially? And then there is the question of identity. Who am I when I am not what I do? I experienced all of that plus the upheaval in Sheila’s career.
But now, in a big house in a mock-chateau subdivision in upscale Marietta, Georgia, I am finding my own way into the rest of my life. I unpacked the last moving box today and guessed at where the napkins rings should go; guessing, really, where I might imagine I put them when it is time to look for them. I watered the house plants and decided to repot the African Violet. I put the redwood shavings in the dog houses that Cooper and Lily disdain but I think are necessary for their comfort. I hung the halloween dish towels on the handles of the double ovens, glad that I had discovered them in that last box on October 31 rather than November 1. I checked the schedule at my recently joined YMCA for a water aerobics class at a reasonable hour and set an alarm to give myself plenty of time to deal with the epic Atlanta traffic. On my way home from the Y this afternoon, I’ll stop at the grocery store to pick up a propane tank so that I can start grilling again and I’ll figure out what to do about dinner. Sheila will come home and tell me about her day while we eat. She’ll ask about mine and I’ll feel a little less self-conscious today than I did yesterday as I describe the small accomplishments of my new life.