Excuse Me. Where Are The Naps?

On the first day of not having to work anymore, I slept in–sort of. It was a heady feeling, the night before, NOT to set the alarm. I can sleep as late as I want! I thought. Used to bolting out of bed to the IPhone alarm’s cheery burble at 5 AM, this prospect sounded like heaven.

So I slept in, and when Mark’s alarm jangled, and he went into the bathroom to shower, I rolled over, threw an arm over my head, and smiled.

I don’t have to get up, I thought smugly.

But my bladder hadn’t gotten the memo. An organ of habit, it made its needs and wants clearly known, and I squirmed and thrashed uncomfortably until Mark emerged, damp and clean and smiling, thirty minutes later.

So I was up, and I threw on what we might, in another era, have called ‘play clothes,’ applied some minimal make-up, and went downstairs to face the day. I plugged in the coffee and pulled out my notebook to do my morning pages. And the dog needed to go out, and then she needed to be fed, and Mark was interested in the plan for the day. The paper arrived, and the headline was about a controversy with which Mark is very familiar, so we dissected that. His eggs looked so good, and my stomach was growling: I ate my Nutty Nuggets, and by then, of course, the dog was ready for her morning walk. I never did get to morning pages on Monday.

And that night, I set my alarm for 5:30, and now I get to sleep in half an hour later than I did on working days, and I still have an hour of quiet house.

I like getting up in a quiet house. I crossed “Sleep late” off the “Things to Do in Retirement” list.

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But I made another list, that first morning, of “Things to Do on Monday”. It included completing a lesson in the online course I’m taking, writing two essays, formatting and editing a post for our community reading initiative’s blog, cleaning up cluttered email, putting the second coat of white paint on the car port’s interior, and making several phone calls. I needed, too, to sit down with Jim and set up the monthly calendars, and then compare each of our calendars for the week. I had a pile of ironing to catch up on and a knitted monkey to stitch together and stuff. I was looking forward to writing some long overdue letters.

It was a fat list, and the day stretched out before me, full of time that I could wrestle into submission. Ahhh…I thought. This will be good.

And then…imagine what I can accomplish TOMORROW!

I had forgotten, though, about Mark’s car needing to go to the body shop, so we convoyed and conveyed, and by the time I got home, Jim was up. It was 9:00 before I hit the email and 10:00 before I opened my lesson, and by lunchtime, I had not gotten to the essays or the ironing or the letters. But, the weather being fine, I thought I would just slap some paint on the car port walls and finish that up by 5:00 when Mark needed to be picked up.

Mark texted to come get him at 4:30 instead, and, disabused of my ‘I am Wonder Woman’ notions, I finished only half of the car port that afternoon. Ah, well.

It is now the end of the week, and four of my ‘Things to Do on Monday’ list items are not yet done.

Recalibrate, recalibrate, recalibrate.

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I have, in this first week of retirement, had time to share lunch with two friends I haven’t seen in too long. I have taken long stretching morning walks by myself, and long chatty evening walks with Mark. I have made appointments, ironed shirts, roasted pork, and simmered a pot of fragrant red sauce. I have, in my knitting basket, a half-stitched monkey.

I have talked my reluctant haircutter, a skilled colorist, into cutting my hair short and then letting it grow out naturally. Perhaps there really is a long gray braid and a pair of Birkenstocks in my future.

I have borrowed a new book by Gail Godwin–an author I discovered during undergrad days 40 years ago–from the library. I have sat, fresh from an evening walk, on  the patio, with a cold glass of ice water, and read that book.

It has been an exploration week, and the urgency of list items still pushes at me, with the learned sense that I need to hurry up and get them done, because soon, darn it, these halcyon days will be done and I will have to go back to work, still hovers. But I’ll get over that, and I will wrestle with the time demons, and I will learn to get things done in a gray-headed, thoughtful, kind of way. I hope.

Retirement.

There is paperwork, and there is time management; there are physical constraints and obligations that didn’t go away with the job’s demands. My friend Susan says every retired educator she knows says this: How did I ever have time to work?? (This is probably true of many other occupations, too, but educators are what we know.)

But there are also personal choices and time to reconnect and the opportunity to experiment and explore. There are the quiet mornings and the evening walks and the sense, at the end of the day, that a few things, long neglected, have been tended to. I have the opportunity to rediscover, renew, re-create.

Retirement: I like it.

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But, oh: I did think there’d be more naps.