retirement in one of its stages

I went to work all those forty three years ago to feed myself, to have shelter – the proverbial roof over my head- so when my daughter’s father was willing to bring her (I had no car at first) she (we) had a place to sleep and play together, and we had neighbors to talk with down the street… neighbors who smiled when she was with me (and who later told me how they disapproved of divorced mothers who lived without their children during the week. Newsflash, I disapproved, too).

We drew chalk hopscotches on the sidewalk, and pulled our wagon to the grocery store, and she swore, at age 5, that once she learned to ride her bike she would never walk again – that has been mostly true most of these past forty years HA.

Work became my refuge, my identity – since Mom was not to be my daily calling. Over time you hardly notice what you become, who you are, why you do the things you do…you simply get on with it, shut out the comments, learn to not take things personally mostly because you choose not to hear them –

I worked and laughed and partied and loved and for the most part continued on alone – not good with people suggesting what I should do – not an ideal candidate for anyone looking to start a life with a family – I discovered that only in hindsight after no one really wanted me for much. I was good for maybe a jolly steak dinner, but no slow morning with coffee and the Sunday paper shared with a comfortable old shoe beloved.

I worked…I enjoyed it…it fulfilled me…it defined me…it saved me…

But now I am retired.

I have time and days and weeks of silent hours to think. I have shaken the desperate need to be busy, busy, busy. Covid isolation has helped doing away with that. And so I have thought, and thought, and thought myself back to when I was eighteen and nineteen, when I truly believed I owned the world. Nothing was impossible. I have remembered me, then. Me, then. ME, then.

I have been amazed at how slowly but surely “ME, then” dissolved. How self doubt crept in, how fear and shame slapped me into a new shape, how I struggled against accepting my lot, then accepted it, but then ran from it – recklessly, foolishly, maniacally, blindly leaving everything behind- screaming, crying, pounding my head and hands on the pink counter tops in that first small apartment until I tired and slept and began again where I, “ME,” had left off… determined to make the “best” of things as they were.

And now, after all these years I live again in small apartment, with tired cupboards and worn carpet. No set work, no set schedule, though just this week I have set the alarm for six A.M. to enjoy the coolness of the morning, and to start planning the day for something.

The marriages, the relationships, the houses, the few vacations, the successes, the failures have no importance. It is what it was, or is, as they say. I am ready to get to know “ME, now..”.und so weiter.

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