Hello. Haven’t seen you in a while. How’ve you been? Good? Nice to hear it. I can’t believe more than three years have passed since we last spoke, can you? Time goes by so fast. What have you been up to?
Oh, me? Well thanks for asking. In a moment of weakness, the non-profit organization where I’d been volunteering hired me part-time in the housing group, meaning I was working with homeless folks — or people at risk of becoming homeless — helping them with rentals using various state grants. It’s rewarding work. Not so much monetarily, since non-profits by design don’t pay worth a damn, but when a formerly homeless family is able to move into an apartment due to the efforts you’ve made on their behalf, it’s a happy day. The resulting hugs are nice, too.
But I’m done with that now. Nearly two weeks ago, I retired. When I posted a photo on Facebook of the cakes my co-workers brought in for my last day,
some commenters called it my “second retirement.” One even said so in such an accusatory way, he sounded downright pissed.
See, the thing is, I did indeed leave an extremely full-time job when John and I sold our farm and moved up here to Washington state. Never once did we think of it as retirement, however, and in fact John snagged a part-time job only a few months after our relocation. The fact that I lingered in unemployed limbo for two years wasn’t entirely my doing — I wanted a job, as well. Yet in this small town, with a work history limited to either the legal field or farming (neither of which I had a desire to resume) local employers were less than enthusiastic about hiring me. Thus the delay in gainful employment, yet during that time I never felt fully retired.
That has changed. In spades. This is the real, 100% bona fide it’s-time-to-jump-on-the-Social-Security-train thing. I do plan to go back to my volunteer gig at the same non-profit but not until the glorious summer months have passed, and only then on an even more part-timey schedule than in my employed years.
Now, I do realize retirement comes with inherent risks, not the least of which is sudden onset irreversible brain atrophy, or as behavioral health professionals refer to it, The Use it or Lose It Syndrome. After all, a person needs to keep the synapses firing for fear of them fizzling out altogether, right? John has been retired over a year and hopes his online chess games will keep him sharp. I’ve been addicted to New York Times crossword puzzles for quite a while already and vow to continue solving them daily, with gusto.
Still, something happened just last night that had me a little concerned about post-retirement mental acuity. As we were getting ready for bed, I noticed the toilet paper in John’s bathroom had unrolled to the point of nearly touching the floor. Being the patient, understanding and non-controlling spouse I pride myself to be, I mentioned it to him. As in, Hey, roll that back up, would ya?
Maybe as a form of retaliation, or simply an honest attempt to right a wrong, John began to explain how I need to be more careful when I get a new roll started. That if I don’t pull the initial sheets simultaneously — our toilet paper of choice is 2-ply — one of the sheets will likely go all akimbo. Become misaligned. Out of sync with the intended second ply, never again to be ripped off the roll in tandem with its twin. I listened closely as the gravity of the situation sunk in.
Until it hit me what this most serious discussion was indeed about. After falling into hysterical laughter that lasted long after my slightly perturbed husband turned off the light, I started to wonder whether online chess and NYT crosswords would be sufficient to stave off what was so quickly showing itself as the inevitable.
Yet is it really that dreadful an omen when toilet paper sheet calibration is considered highbrow commentary? Perhaps not. It’s like the old adage: One man’s analysis of bathroom tissue alignment is another man’s dissertation on the theory of quantum mechanics. Same/same.
I think we’re going to be fine.