The older I get, the more I love and appreciate my women friends, and the more important they become in my life. It has nothing to do with the relationship or the love I have for my husband – in fact, I think it’s because I love him as much as I do that I feel free to lean on my women friends in ways I know would drive my husband crazy. My husband and I promised a long time ago that we would not suffocate one another or become co-dependent, and he likes it that I don’t drag him along with me all the time. I have several wonderful women friends in my life with whom I spend time, and I love each and every one and always look forward to the times we share.
This article is about having lunch with my dear friend, whom I’ll call “A.” We have been friends for something over twenty years, and while our contact with one another seems to wax and wane, we are able to come together even after a long time as though it were only last week. “A” is a person I can bounce ideas off, knowing that she’ll tell me the truth if I’m out of line, and I can do the same with her. Such honesty, delivered kindly and jokingly, is a rare treasure, and so we tend to bounce all kinds of wild ideas off one another as a way to stay on the true path. We’ve been able to get together a few times this winter; we had lunch one day last week, and her daughter joined us as a surprise to me. I hadn’t seen her daughter, whom I’ll call “B,” in many years but she recently moved back to the area. All grown now, she fit right in and we three women launched into some great conversation. “B” didn’t necessarily know that I was going to retire, so I didn’t feel pressured to talk about it, and our conversations took a circuitous route through all kinds of interesting territory. I think we were talking about a horse – “A” has had many horses, and at several different times has declared herself, “Done, not having any more horses!” “B” and I were teasing her wickedly about a new horse she was considering — when suddenly, in the middle of the horse conversation, I achieved clarity. I had my answer, and it was really very simple in the end.
It’s all about the writing. It was writing that led me to the decision to retire in the first place, and I need to hold true to that goal. I need to have faith in my ability and I need to follow my passion. At that moment I knew it more clearly than I’ve known anything in a very long time. It was grand. Since then, I have let go of all the other ideas; I have, for years, joked that “I want to do it all!” and it was that thought that has been forcing me to consider every possibility. I would love to be able to do it all, but no one has that capacity and it would be stupid to stretch myself so thin.
Looking back on the moment, it all makes sense. I was relaxed, but alert and engaged in the conversation, which was about the future – but not specifically my future, and so my brain was able to function without the burden I’ve been carrying around for all these months. Because “B” did not ask me what I was going to do next, I wasn’t working on what I would say. (It seems that in the last six months or so, when people ask me what I’m going to do after I retire, I usually squirm uncomfortably, and admit that I have no idea, and I hate it every time.)
Later in the week, I printed out a new copy of my book, wrote a new letter to another publisher, and sent my book off again. The first rejection letter was encouraging and hopeful, and I believe in this book.
I feel as though a great weight has lifted from my shoulders and I am standing taller, smiling more, and am determined that I will create my own future, my way.
Blue-eyed Horse on Flickr by: iantho