This long holiday weekend has been busy! In addition to the traditional activity of planning and preparing for Thanksgiving, my husband and I made a decision to buy a new TV. Since the new flat-screen HD sets have come down in price, and our living room is TINY, and since we have the money now and certainly won’t have as much after June — well, it was an easy decision. This will be our last TV, and it will be our Christmas gift to each other. We made a similar decision not that long ago when we bought a car. Our last new one.
As June and my retirement date come ever closer, it seems that there are lots of those kinds of decisions to be made, and this weekend I thought about it more. Part of the decision about the TV involved what we will put it on (we had decided against mounting it on the wall), and aha! We already owned the perfect piece. We had purchased an unfinished credenza a few years ago, with a different plan in mind, but never got around to finishing it, and then we abandoned that plan; thus, it had been sitting on our enclosed porch getting older and taking up space. It’s perfect for the TV — fits exactly right along the living room wall, and includes some storage cupboards and drawers — and it will open up the living room nicely to give us more of a spacious feeling.My husband sanded it on Friday morning, and when he was done I went to work. Classic oak stain, some “new london burgundy” paint for the door panels and drawer fronts, and by tomorrow morning, after drying overnight, it will be done. Two coats, and an extra coat on the top, and it looks great. It was during the process of painting, cleaning brushes, fine sanding, and staining that I was able to let my mind wander — a luxury in itself — and I made some connections between the preparation for retirment and (yes, this will seem weird) being pregnant.
Two of my colleagues at school have had babies during the last two years, and another friend out of state is presently pregnant. Thus I have been a cheerful participant in many recent conversations about that stage of life. It’s amazing that no matter how many years have gone by, a woman always remembers the details of being pregnant and having babies — all the planning, wondering, getting ready, acquiring the necessities, and then the joy of having that new person in one’s life. It’s a rite of passage into something new and exciting, and letting go of familiar ways that will be ever changed.
This year for me is much like that, and I am savoring the moments that I know are preparation for a whole new life ahead. It hits me at odd times — and I notice it more frequently as the school year marches forward. It happens both in school and at home, as it did this weekend. It’s both a pull toward something new and different, and a holding back, regretting that something familiar and loved will be left behind.
So this last year all comes down to getting ready, both materially and mentally, and putting the house in order. Like the huge paradigm shift of learning to become a parent, the shift of becoming retired requires a lot of getting ready, too. I shall keep the faith that the next stage will bring great joy that I do not yet understand. It’s a process. I’m glad I have this time, this year, for planning, wondering, and getting ready.