What does it feel like to be retired? Hmmm… so far I really couldn’t tell you. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind, getting the Cardiff house cleared out and cleaned up and trying to get all of my accumulated years’ worth of paperwork and computer files removed from the laboratory at work.
I began in early January organizing and packing up my belongings in the Oxford house. It is one thing when one is simply moving things from one house to another and a different circumstance when the objective is to eliminate everything unnecessary and pare things down to the bare minimum. I spent hours sorting through things, shredding years of medical, taxes and other personal documents. The three main categories were give-away, sell and store. The duplex got much messier and disheveled before the chaos starting giving away to some form of meaningful separation. Lots of things just got moved from a big pile up in Cardiff to a big pile up in Carlsbad. Now it will be time for a bit more resorting.
I had pretty decent luck selling things on Craigslist. The dressers went the same day they were listed and the chair and sofa both got purchased the next day. Gave away most of the plants and now it is down to just the king-sized bed that seems to be having a hard time getting out the door. Ray, the painter, came last Tuesday and on Thursday the house cleaners came for their final move out clean. I scrubbed the balcony and got rid of the few remaining plants and crappy chairs. My friend Kevin came by and put new screen in the sliding doors for me, replacing the old mesh that had been kicked and weathered since I had moved in. The carpet guys are coming Monday, so that should be the last step to having that chore behind me. Really sad to be leaving Cardiff in the rear view mirror. A 1.5 mile commute
to work and a haven of peace. So many years of unimpeded ocean views, easy walks to the beach and market, friendly neighbors and the best of landlords. Much love and appreciation to all.
On the work front, I had tons of time to prepare for an easy exit, but procrastinated until the last minute before beginning to clean out my desk and clear all of my stuff out of the lab.
The fact that Friday was going to be my final day on the job didn’t seem to register and I was cruising along until the clock was getting near the zero hour. I got most of my belongings out, but still had some shredding of old paperwork from health benefits and insurance policies to finish up. I wiped down the desktop and rushed out the door with barely enough time to race through traffic up to the Oceanside campus to attend the going away party my lab co-workers had arranged for me.
I walked in to a room full of people, many of them who were there at the beginning of my employment at the college. There was the professor who sat on my original hiring committee, the faculty members I had known from day 1, and a number of the folks from the Career Center where my original job placement had been under a grant so many years ago. I was surprised to see the dean who was instrumental in my transition from grant funded employee to a full time permanent position in the Biotech Program. He had retired years ago and I had no idea he was coming. A lot of memories covering a lot of years and lots of changes. The perfect job for me that I happened to fall into at just the right time in my life and at the right era of close knit community that defined the college in the early 2000’s.
I was presented with many thoughtful and original gifts. A hand painted card with scenes depicting our upcoming travels, another card signed by all of the San Elijo staff with photos taken from the blog to make a collage on the back. We were given a beautiful hammock, a bag full of parts and pieces to save us in case of a roadside mishap and my personal favorite, a brass compass with words by Thoreau etched on the case. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Not to mention the envelope full of gas money to get the motorhome out of the driveway and on the trail. Thank you all so much. It was truly touching to see so many turn out to say good bye.
From the celebration of my retirement, I went directly to the Prince of Peace monastery for a meditation retreat with a group of friends. It was the perfect timing to get in some reflection and to begin to unwind from all of the business of the past weeks. There are still lots of preparation to be done, but now I can tackle it with renewed energy. It still doesn’t quite fell like I’m retired, but honestly, what exactly does that feel like? I’ll let you know when I begin to get an inkling of what it feels like for myself.