I had planned to retire right after my 66th birthday, four and a half years from now. I wonder whether I would have felt less guilt about sitting at home all day had I “graduated” into retirement, and not been tossed into it.
Guilt. Is that the right word? I don’t know.
I mean, there’s a certain amount of that, obviously. While I can sit at home all day eating bagels and watching game shows, my poor husband has to go to his job, and work his ass off. It isn’t fair. Every night, when he comes home, I lunge at him and ask, “How was your day?” Partly, it’s because I’m interested… but sadly, I’m also trying to keep him from asking about MY day, which has been, once again, wasted. I’ve neglected both my lofty goals as a writer and my practical ones as a housewife.
I’m not supposed to be sitting around the house all day. Not yet. Writing feels like self-indulgent goofing off, and housework is totally unappealing.
I watch TV and grow angrier and angrier at myself.
At one point this afternoon, I looked out the windows, and saw some of my neighbors, many of whom are retired. Did I feel like they were wasting their days? No. They walk their dogs. They water their plants. They sit on their porches and wave at the cars that go by. Nobody’s writing the Great American Novel or setting the world on fire, but why should they? They’re old. They’ve done what they were supposed to do. Now, they’re just marking the time until they drop dead.
Oh, dear. That’s it.
I hadn’t planned on being moribund for a while.
About a hundred years ago (literally), my mother’s Uncle Miguel Amado tried to sign up for World War I. (Yes. I am THAT old). He was a handsome and ambitious young fellow who wanted to capture the same kind of glory his father had enjoyed as a general in the Cuban War of Independence. (THAT old.) When Miguel Amado was given the requisite physical exam, he was sent packing. “You have a heart condition,” they said. “You can’t serve.” It wasn’t the news he expected to hear. It changed his self-perception, and turned him into an invalid. He went home, got into bed, and never got up again. Within the month, he was dead.
I’m expensive and unnecessary, I was told, and I also went home. I’ve been trying to find new battles to fight, but I’m afraid my self-perception has been changed as well.
But I’ll be damned if I lay down and die anytime soon.
I’m going to keep writing and I’m going to start moving.
Help me up.