Today is July 15.
On Dec. 8, 2017, five months from now, I will retire after working at paid jobs (mostly) as a bean walker, corn detasseler, barn painter, waitress, Hardee’s employee, college dormitory food service worker, Target shoe department employee, ISU Alumni student worker, Iowa State Daily reporter and copy editor, Boone News-Republican reporter/photographer intern (no pay), Gloucester County Times (NJ) food/education editor and news editor, Pawtucket Times (RI) stringer, Dine-Out-Tonight (in the Superman building in Providence!) copywriter, Amica Insurance (RI) corporate communications writer, Seekonk High School (MA) English teacher and Amica Insurance (again) communications specialist and communications and PR manager.
All that adds up to more than 45 years of paychecks for seasonal and part-time work (age 15 to 22) and full-time work (22 until now). I took off almost one year when Emily was born (Mallory was in kindergarten), and I got about eight weeks off when Mallory was born. Other than that, I worked full-time. As a teacher for 12 years, I had my summers off to enjoy with my daughters at Rhode Island beaches, and we visited grandparents and big families and lots of friends in New Jersey, Iowa and South Dakota every summer.
I cherish those summers with them. So many wonderful memories.
In December, I will leave my job of the past 11 years and move to a condo in Groton, Connecticut. I’ll be about 30-40 minutes from my daughters’ homes in Colchester. It’s far enough and close enough for all of us. I hope I can be there for them when they need me — and not underfoot when they don’t. I look forward to exploring the southeastern Connecticut shore area, finding a good library, a bike trail, a walking path, an empty beach. I hope my new neighbors will be friendly. And I hope I will be brave enough to make new friends.
Rhode Island is still right up the road. I’ll probably be even closer to some great RI beaches than I am now. I hope to hold on to friendships and connections I enjoy here. I have come to love this state with all its quirkiness and self-indulgence and feelings of inferiority. Little does it know how beautiful it is — how many wonderful places it contains.
I may be retiring, but I won’t quit writing. (And I hope, hope, hope I’ll still get paid for writing.) I’ll be looking for a part-time jobs after I get settled in Groton. I’d like to work for a nonprofit or some other program that needs help. If that doesn’t happen, I’d love to work with my hands (flowers, gardening, outdoors, seaport, casino — we’ll see).
As of today, I’ve been on my own for one year. I left my husband and my home after 37 years of marriage last July. It’s something I don’t talk about because it makes others (and me) uncomfortable and sad. I’ve never been alone like this before. I grew up with 6 brothers and sisters and shared a bedroom all my life. I went to college and had a roommate. I got married and had a husband. And now I live in a condo with 2 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths that I share with no one.
And I am happy..
My life is my own. My choices are my own. I can get up and go somewhere or sit all day without someone passing judgment. I can be myself. I don’t have to compromise, if that’s what you call it. I don’t have to deal with negativity and anger and pessimism. For so many years I did things by myself because my husband had no interest in going somewhere new or trying a different restaurant or going to a movie or just going for a drive. And I felt lonely back then. Now when I go places by myself or try something new, I may be alone but I am never lonely. My next steps are to go to a concert by myself and to go on a long trip by myself.
It wasn’t always like this, but somewhere along the way we lost it and we never got it back. For years I tried to ignore the fact that we didn’t make each other happy. I left and came back. He left and came back. I kept thinking it would get better. But it didn’t. We didn’t. And finally I left for good. I’m sad about that, but sadder about all those empty years.
Happiness blooms from within.
And so it goes,
I hope you know happiness. Peace.