What a strange summer we’re having this year! The weather here has gone from chilly to hot and back again. Today is the last day of July, which seems incredible to me. I really think that as we get older, how we notice the world around us changes. We march to our own rhythm, and in some ways our focus turns inward—but not really in a selfish way. Things in the outside world that when we were younger seemed so vital to us just aren’t that important anymore.
Sometimes I think that I’m living in a different reality than other people are. The days don’t mean the same thing to me as they used to. Yes, every one of them is precious, but their value to me is different than it used to be. Now, the days are not governed by the time on the clock and what I can get for myself in the hours provided, so much as they are defined by my activities, my thoughts and tasks, my goals and mostly, my relationships with other people.
I’ve been staying up later than I ever have before—now that I am fully freed from having to drive my beloved to work, I’m slowly coming to the realization that I don’t have to live by the clock the way I used to.
It’s been kind of slow evolution for me, though, and while I know that burning the midnight oil has been a choice I’ve made, I’m really not sure I like it.
I may stay up until two in the morning, but then I feel really guilty if I sleep in until nine, or nine-thirty. I feel like I’m standing with a foot in each world—the world of the night owl and the world of the early riser. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least, because those worlds are drifting apart and I am way passed the age when I can comfortably do the splits.
Life is going to change even more for us over the next five years, as my beloved approaches his retirement. Friends, I worry about that, I really do. I don’t worry so much about a change in our income. We’re very blessed that way. Our house is paid for, we live frugally, and we both have retirement savings accounts. Added to those blessings, I am doing something that I not only love but that earns me a living, and it’s something I can conceivably continue to do until I die—the Good Lord willing and the river don’t rise.
No, I worry about what life is going to be like when we are here, together. Every day. Week after week, month after month, and year after year after year. Just the two of us, and the puppy and the cat.
Seriously, I worry about this. I’ve seen my beloved with two days off every week, and I know how he tends to spend those days. I shudder to think of him with nothing but time.
He tells me I don’t have anything to worry about. I’m going to pray that’s so. I do know that like me, he believes that when one retires, one needs to keep busy. People who retire from active jobs, who then do nothing day in and day out but sit on their bottoms watching television and going for naps, don’t tend to live very long. David has long wanted to restore old farm equipment—or old cars, he hasn’t decided which he wants to do the most. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have the facility for him to follow that dream. Our goal is to buy another house before he retires, one that has an outbuilding he can use as a “shop” to work in.
We don’t need or even want fancy, we just need something that will work for us. This house with its upstairs and its laundry room in the basement and its river-terraced yard really does not work for us anymore. Or more specifically, it doesn’t work for me.
I always knew that life was supposed to slow down as we got older. I’m not certain I understood beforehand that this slowing down would be accompanied by a filter that would weave itself between me and the rest of the world.
But at least now I understand the serene, slightly unfocused expressions I used to notice on the faces of the old people, sitting quietly on park benches, as they watched the world go by.