I noticed a few of our blogging colleagues have recently gone to Hawaii. Wow! That sounds like a retirement dream! I've never been anywhere near Hawaii, never been west of California.
My gut reaction was jealousy -- man, I wish I was going to Hawaii, too. But after I thought about it for a while, I decided, you know, I don't really care all that much about Hawaii. Especially since I don't like to fly -- and there's really no other way to get there.
But it made me wonder. What are my dreams for retirement? Is it the same as a Bucket List?
I have thought about taking a trip around the world. I think that would be really cool. I've wrestled with the idea of not liking to fly -- but I figure if I get to age 70 or so, what the heck, if I go down, I've still had a nice life. Besides, I do fly occasionally, and it doesn't bother me too much, once I've popped a few of those Lorazepam pills. Plus, an around the world trip would involve, maybe, eight or ten back-to-back airplane flights. Once you've done two or three, taking off gets to be old hat.
One problem with that particular retirement dream: I've mentioned the plan to B, my life partner, and she wasn't very keen on the idea. I don't know why not -- she doesn't mind flying. Maybe it's just too ambitious for her, out of her comfort zone to travel so far away. Anyway, I wouldn't go without her. So it's not my my list.
Because, you see, the very first item on my wish list for retirement is to travel on this journey into old age hand in hand with B, in a relationship that, hopefully, stays just as good as it is now. We've discussed a little bit what the aging process will do to us, and we're ready to take on the challenge together, one with another, she providing a crutch for me, and I providing a crutch for her. We will suffer the indignities of old age together, with love and no shame. If we do spend some time together as tourists, that's fine. If we don't, that's okay too.
Item two on my retirement wish list is to keep my health as long as I can. To that end I have joined a health club and I'm trying to get more exercise, and I watch my diet. I'm a few pounds overweight; but not any more than that. I lost ten pounds last year and have managed to keep it off. It helps a little bit with my arthritic right ankle (old injury) and my arthritic left knee (old age). I've almost completely given up eating red meat. I eat lots of chicken and fish and pasta, and try to consume fruits and vegetables and salads. I do pack away too much ice cream. Haven't found a way or the will to cut back on ice cream.
Number three would be financial security. I realize in this world, there is no total financial security. But we're working on it, and feel that we're doing okay ... so far. We live relatively modestly, a little bit below our means. I also know that I have no problem "doing without." I could cut my expenses and downsize my life without much suffering, if I had to. If we had to sell our house and move to a smaller place, it wouldn't bother me. When I was divorced and living on my own, I lived in a condo -- and I kind of liked it. If I had to drive a clunker, it wouldn't bother me. Actually, I kind of like the idea of not driving at all.
My two kids are important to me. I want to see them happy and successful. Neither one is married; I don't have any grandchildren, or any on the horizon. There's plenty of time for that a little further down the road. I'm in no hurry. But yeah, I'd say grandchildren are on my wish list.
I'd also like to have some friends in retirement, and this does worry me. My old friends are either recently retired, or will be retiring in the next few years. And I'm afraid we will drift apart. One already has a place in Florida, another bought a condo in South Carolina. They already have "one foot out the door." If my old group falls apart, where will I find new friends? And if B and I end up moving somewhere else in retirement -- a good possibility -- would I find any new like-minded people to become my friends? I wouldn't want to move someplace that's too settled, where everyone already knows everybody else and they aren't interested in welcoming a newcomer. I don't make friends all that easily. And I want some guys to hang out with, who will engage in interesting conversation, make jokes, play some golf and drink some beer (or maybe it'll be Metamucil by that time).
I'd like to keep working in retirement. (Is that an oxymoron?) Right now I work about half time. And that suits me fine. I could see scaling back, maybe to a quarter time. But working gives me a sense of purpose, a feeling that I'm worth something to someone besides myself and my little family. It makes me feel good when the phone rings, or I get an email from one of my job contacts. Usually the assignments are interesting; they give me something to focus on for a week or two. And it's nice to get a check (or, more usually, an electronic credit into my bank account). It shores up my monthly budget, and makes it easier to pay those extra expenses like a big dental bill or car repair or request for money from one of my kids.
Beyond all this, am I missing something? Should I be more ambitious? I do have plenty of books I want to read. I keep thinking I might take a class, but so far have not made the leap back to academia. I did volunteer to help older people do their taxes next year, but I don't know if they'll actually call on me.
B and I plan to visit Arizona and Southern California this winter. Since I left work -- almost ten years ago -- I've managed to escape to someplace warm, usually Florida, for a couple of weeks in February or March. Who knows? Maybe one of these days I'll get as far as Hawaii!