It's interesting to think about how life has changed in these two years and how distant the time before seems. The changes in April 2010 were profound: I retired. My husband retired. We closed escrow on the sale of our home of 29 years. And, bundling our three surprisingly calm cats into the back seat of our Honda Civic, we relocated 500 miles from L.A. to rural Arizona. All in a nine-day period.
Life was too frantic for prolonged goodbyes and looks back then. Now that we're settled into our new life, I think about the time before -- what I miss and what I don't. One list is shorter than the other.
What I Miss....
I find I miss certain people the most -- friends since childhood, friends from 42 years of work, my commuter bus buddies -- from joyous driver Nelson who actually loved navigating the 405 freeway and my friend Irene Rodriguez, with whom, over five years of commuting to work at UCLA, I shared so many impassioned political discussions as the bus crawled through endless hours of freeway congestion. Lately, there have been many times when I've heard a bit of political insanity and have longed to carry on about it with Irene. Email and phone visits back and forth are fun. But nothing quite beats the joy of whispered ranting -- and laughing -- with Irene on the bus.
There are times when I miss those heady days of my writing career when Oprah and The Today Show and USA Today were calling.
And I miss those days when, as a therapist, I felt deep satisfaction in making a difference to a patient, perhaps easing their sadness, perhaps helping them to rediscover their own strengths.
But such times had largely faded into warm, personal memories well before my actual retirement.
I miss the easy availability of favorite places -- the beach, the mountains, favorite stores and restaurants.
But mostly I miss being geographically close to family and some treasured friends.
What I Don't Miss At All:
Horrific L.A. commutes and planning life events to avoid getting stuck in traffic
The stress of multiple jobs and responsibilities or --to be honest -- working any job
Sunday afternoon depressions, knowing the next day started another work week
Getting up at 4 a.m. for the commute to work
Fear of layoffs
The times of not seeing the light of day, of missing whole seasons because of my frantic work schedule, never feeling my time was truly my own
General workplace pettiness and insanity -- especially the instances -- in several workplaces over the last 20 years of working-- where I was sternly instructed to keep my previous (or ongoing) writing achievements a guilty secret lest the knowledge of these upset, threaten or cause resentment among co-workers
The heartbreak -- largely because of such secrets -- of not being authentic, not being myself for too many of those last years
Although I'm grateful to have been continuously employed -- except for one awful year in the early Nineties -- and to have met many wonderful people in the course of 42 years of working, I don't miss the times of working for others at all.
And while I loved working for many years as a full-time freelance writer, I don't miss the financial anxiety of dealing with the ups and downs of the publishing industry. Only now, when I have a retirement income that doesn't require huge investments of my time and energy, can I write with a sense of freedom and joy in finding my own voice, and taking the risk of writing what pleases me.
I'm so grateful for the opportunities that come with retirement.
I feel so blessed to have these years of relative good health and lingering young old age, to write with an open heart and mind, to embrace each day as my own, to be fully myself perhaps for the first time ever.