Today is Jan. 10 and I am into retirement mode almost 6 1/2 months….it is quite a new beginning.
I feel like I am standing in front of a huge smorgasbord of activities, similar to the grand buffet at the Palace Hotel in SF in the 1950’s adorned with many fine delicacies of gourmet delights. I remember the dessert table so well with whipped cream in many colors and shapes added to mini cakes and pastries. so many choices..then it was food; now it is life…the rest of my life.
Did I think I was going to be a now single woman of soon to be 69 living in a trailer park in a small seaside village?
I had been thinking of retirement for many years. When age 65 came and went I just went with today’s thought that 65 is now 55…and so I kept on working.
I convinced myself it kept me young, well dressed and coiffed, technologically savvy, a bigger bank account and a structure to my life.
I worked at Embarcadero Media, a multi media company with 3 newpapers, 3 online and websites, visitor guides, INFO guides, Dining Guides, Class Guides, Living Well guides, Bridal Guides, Best of Guides..Home and Garden guides….a guide to practically anything. All these guides, papers, websites were, of course, supported by advertising. I was the queen of advertising sales…a manager for 6 years at the company but chose to go back to the streets to make it a total of over 14 years at a company that was forced to change with the times.
During the last few years subsconsciously I was plotting my retirement. I lived in a nice condo in Mountain View, which I had purchased in 1998. It was right in the heart of Silicon Valley and walking distance to Google. I refinanced, began cleaning closets, saving money and talking retirement to anyone and everyone. I read articles, blogs and had opinions from many.
One day I was having breakfast with one of my advertising accounts, a sweet woman who owned a delightful and educational toy store in Los Altos. Over coffee and a mixed scramble, she asked me about retirement. She knew me long enough to hear my grumbles over the years about the downside, stress and pressures of my job. I told her I thought I was ready but the only way I could afford it was to rent my condo in Mountain View.
“Funny you should say that,” she smiled. “I have a friend who has a friend who is looking for a place to lease in Silicon Valley.”
Needless to say, the doors began to open..a few days later I had met with Eghosa, nice 42 year old man from Nigeria… he was ready to lease my safe little nest of the past 14 years sight unseen! This was it I told myself; I retired from EMC; signed a one year lease and decided to move into a 1950 mobile home in Capitola I had bought 10 years ago for my son with multiple sclerosis. At this time, he and his on again; off again girlfriend for the last 5 years were living in another mobile home a few miles away. The mobile home I had been paying on for the past ten years plus purchasing the land underneath was welcoming me with its garden, cozy cupboards, and light streaming in thru the windows. not to mention the sea breeze and .8 walk to the ocean.
I have loved Capitola since the 70’s and it was a life’s dream to live by the sea. Of course, in the dream, my home was hanging over a cliff with the sounds of the ocean serenading 24/7 while my prince was preparing dinner.
So, my inner voice said or rather blared at me..TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET AND RUN! and so I did.
My last day of work was June 15, 2012 and Eghosa was moving in on July 1. I flew into overdrive and went nonstop. I made it and arrived in a heap in what my grandson has termed “the hut”….The hut was still in disarray from the 10 years my son had lived here with his indoor and outdoor gardens for his medicinal marijuana and assorted people, furnishings and God knows what.
After I landed, one of my friends, my old college roommate with a second home in Capitola took it upon herself to get me launched as did my former business partner prior to Embarcadero Media days. They showered me with brochures, menu’s, maps, walks, shopping tips from home depot to Capitola Book Café.
The summer flew by with lots of guests curious to see where I had spirited myself off to; unpacking and rearranging and lots of walks to the nearby beach.
When September arrived and I realized I had no place to go at 8 in the morning; no structure to my life and absolutely no purpose. I panicked. I got busy and started signing up for anything in sight.
I first went to Temple Beth El. Not that I’m particularly religious, but I feel good around fellow Jews..at least I thought I did. I found myself on a centerpiece decorating committee for the new member tea. Was this what I gave up a good salary for? I met a few lovely women who let me know about this writing group and that yoga group. and this hairdresser and this travel opportunity. One thing led to another and I discovered Bernard Osher Lifelong Learners.
I will never forget my first general meeting at Stevenson College. I trudged up the hill and looked around…hundreds of these “old people.” It was then I realized I was in a new demographic….I am a senior….I may look good but underneath it all, I am still encroaching on 69.
I seized the opportunity to sign up for several of the interest groups at that first meeting. My life is so rich and full now with my new life long learning activities. Conversational French, Memoir Writing, Financial Planning, Hiking, English in Action are the ones I have time for in my now very busy life, which includes learning ukelele and daily walks to the beach.
Through the English in Action group, I have been engaging in conversation with a Chinese woman, Li, from Shanghai who is here with her husband who is a visiting scholar at UCSC. She was pregnant and coming to my home each week. For the two of us, it has been a wonderful learning experience. It has been so rewarding for me to be able to help her. Olivia, her baby, was just born two weeks ago. I went to meet her for the first time today. I was so welcomed by the family. They are so grateful to me for helping Li with her English…”please come to Shanghai and stay with us,” says the mother in her native tongue…Li translates. The husband proudly looks on and Olivia sleeps. These people have become a new Chinese family for me.
Six months have flown by. I am a senior with purpose, direction, new friends and wonderful learning opportunities.