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» Thursday, February 01, 2018Shutting One Door and Opening Another
And, astonishingly, it's over.
I made it to work and back yesterday without the traffic accident I've been fearing for years. Traffic has changed so much since I began at CDC. In 1988, after I left work for the day, I used to go exploring. I would drive up to places as far as Haynes Bridge Road (I was living in Brookhaven, just north of downtown, at the time) to check out an interesting store—this is back in the days when Atlanta was dotted with needlework and non-chain craft shops (alas all gone) and new small restaurants—unmindful of the other traffic. Now you need a whip and a chair to get me out there some days. People drive quickly and they drive crazy, using the HOV lanes and turn lanes to pass, skittering across five lanes of traffic to get to the exit they forgot, caught at intersections with a cell phone attached to their ear. (I love my smartphone, but can't understand for the life of me why some folks must have the damn things seemingly surgically attached to them.) The accidents shown on the news are enough to make your hair turn white overnight: crushed engines, crumpled-in trunks, rolled-over SUVs, vehicles with their tops or sides peeled away with a nightmare can opener. And I discover that in the last few years that it is harder and harder for me to drive in the dark due to the glare of the headlights. Since most of my morning commute, except for about six weeks around the summer solstice, is taken in the dark, this is a problem more serious by the day.
On Wednesday morning I printed out and assembled in its little brown folder the Very Last Purchase Order I finished yesterday and left it on Puli's desk for signature. I distributed the thank you cards I wrote out Tuesday afternoon for the gift cards I received at my little party, and wrote a thank you note to Will who helped Puli set up the party. I copied off the party photos from Puli's e-mails and some other photos I'd forgotten, then I deleted all my e-mail folders, and, before I left, emptied out the deleted box. I used the bathroom several times, and had my breakfast and then washed the bowl and spoon for the last time and tucked it into the cart I'd brought with me, and drank my water. I had to go downstairs to ask Portia—I have to leave my laptop and cord with her—just what the heck I was supposed to do. Talked to Gary and Kris and several other people congratulating me.
Then I was down to nothing. I unplugged my fan, packed it into the cart with the spoon and the bowl and the box of Kleenex, all that remained in my cubicle of the seasonal photos and decorations, the Cup-a-Soups and the crackers, the magnets and the old calendars, that kept me company over the years. I tucked the laptop and the cord under my arm and took it to Portia (good thing I did it then, too, because she was going off to a class in a few minutes) and she signed off on my checklist, and then I went back upstairs and rolled the cart downstairs and put it in the car.
Without the laptop, nothing left. I asked Vivian to sign my request for a retiree badge (I needed a branch chief) and I took my bag, and as Juanita suggested, took a photo of the empty cubicle and then walked out without looking back, still smiling at Vivian saying that she always liked to get my purchase order folders; they were so nice and neat! (Thank you, I tried. I abhorred messy folders when I inherited them!) On the way to the car, I took a photo of myself reflected in the front of the building. I looked so small and it was all so big.
Then I went to the Williams Building and swapped out an active badge for a rather homely retiree badge, and Twi and I came home. Poor car needs retirement himself. And all the way I home I sang my mantra:
"I know where I need to be ‘cause I know where I've been--
Found a better road to walk and I'm ready to begin.
Time, it takes you into change, and time, it teaches you;
Gotta another chance this time and I know just what I'll do:
Gonna take my life, give it to me, gonna become what I came here to be,
Gonna change my life, gonna be strong, now I know where I belong.
Now I know where I belong.
See the sun climb up the sky to light another day--
Gonna let it shine on me, let it take me on my way.
I know where I need to be ‘cause I know where I've been;
Found another road to walk and I'm ready to begin.
Gonna take my life, give it to me, gonna become what I came here to be.
Gonna change my life, gonna be strong, now I know where I belong.
Now I know where I belong.
Now I know where I belong."
You know, I don't think I imagined how I would feel on my last day. The guy in the badge office said that a lot of people just tossed their badge at him and stalked out. I almost sort of imagined I'd go out grinning like mad or skipping. I almost didn't feel anything, even though I was singing going home. It was almost like it wasn't real yet.
Today it was real. But then today ended up being a little odd, too.
I've been planning a lot of things for retirement. People have sort of jokingly ribbed me about doing nothing about living it up, but one of the things I know about myself is that I can be abominably lazy when I let myself. So while I'm not completely discarding being spontaneous or taking it easy once in a while, I know I have to be on some type of schedule. Just because I'm free of "work" doesn't mean I'm free of work. Clothes still have to be washed weekly, the trash done, the kitchen tidied, the carpet vacuumed, the floors swept, the bathrooms cleaned. And there are things I have been dying to do—and, conversely, things I don't have to do anymore. I have tantalized myself for months with my list of "the things I don't have to buy after I retire": Those Damn Bananas, Kroger buns, lunchmeat, chicken spread, Reeboks, granola bars (oh, how sick I am of those granola bars!), Chex Mix, Reeboks, cookie trays, tuna, an extra calendar, a desk pad. Or things I don't have to do anymore: get up before six a.m., drive on the freeway with crazy people during rush hour, sit in that awful uncomfortable ergonomic chair all day.
I've also been making lists of things I wanted to do around the house. My motto is "Declutter! Declutter! Declutter!" I am tired to death of dodging, stepping around, and pickup up. One of the projects has been to repurpose locations which had been formerly "work only." For instance, since we've been in this house, I've hung up my work clothes on hooks behind the bathroom door, and gotten dressed in the bathroom because I have always gotten up either at the same time as or before James. Once I got home Wednesday I cleared off those hooks and they will now be used for "knocking around" clothes.
Someone asked me what I was going to do on my first day of retirement, and I flippantly said "Sleep late and eat at Tin Drum." Frankly, what I was aiming for was simply eight hours of sleep, and I was happy when I went right back to sleep when James got up. Alas, Nature screamed about 7:10. Since this is about the time my phone tweedles to tell me James has left for work, I was wondering if I missed it when I looked toward the bedroom door and saw a bright light. Yes, the living room light was on, and James' laptop was set up in the living room. Wait...what?
Quick rewind: you remember the car accident, the truck being totalled, and the chair lift being damaged beyond repair. The chair, which was tossed into a ditch at the side of the street, seemed to have faired best. Covered in scratches and with a bent shock absorber and a cracked plastic cowling, it still worked, although we found out it still needed some adjusting. We used it minimally over the weekend because it rained, but James took it back and forth to work Monday and Tuesday with no problem.
Wednesday he got it off the ramp and it locked up flat. He finally had to put it into neutral and struggle to roll it on the lift and limp into work. He got an appointment at the chair place a few hours later, but the chair started normally at the mobility place and the technician could find nothing wrong. He tightened a bunch of things and ordered the new shock. James came home and finished up the day teleworking.
This morning he got it as far as the driveway and it stopped dead, and the little LED screen is showing a blinking maintenance symbol. He had to put it back into neutral to get it back into the garage and it was a bear to heave it over the lip. Then he had to call up his boss and tell him he was once again transportationless. The chair place only called back at lunchtime. Since the chair won't turn on at all now, James told them there was no way he could get it uphill on the driveway and on the lift. They can't come our way to fetch it until Wednesday. So either we struggle to try to get it there tomorrow and James loses another afternoon of work, or he can telework and wait for the chair place to mosey over our way. His boss told him to telework.
Anyway, I got several things checked off my list, although I neither slept late or ate well. I've been keeping my work bag in our bedroom on a little teak table James inherited. In the interim all the books I've been hoarding from coupons, library book sales, bookstore closings (::sob!:: Borders!) and the like have been piling up around this table. Since the bag doesn't need to be there anymore, I unstacked the books and dusted them off, removed the table (it's now under a window in the living room with the CD player on it), and then restacked them in a more orderly fashion. I also had to do an intervention on a double stack of fiction books near the bed, which were threatening to tip over, and almost did when I started fiddling with them. It worked out, I vacuumed, and that was that. I also re-positioned another table, James now has the lunchbox shelf in the kitchen to himself, and my work shoes are now my everyday shoes, and not a minute too soon: my weekend shoes have little tread left and list alarmingly to the outside edge of each of my feet. I will box them up for dirty work in the yard. I also uninstalled Citrix from my computer and erased any work files off my computer.
It was a busy morning's work, but I was satisfied and rewarded myself this afternoon by listening to my John Denver "Complete RCA Albums" set. I'd been thinking of running to Stein Mart this morning to look at bed quilts, but since I had to wait for TruGreen (I couldn't risk that James would be on the phone when they showed up), I did this work instead and am glad I did. Also collected the trash early.
We had to go to Kaiser to pick up James' prescriptions, so we stopped at Zaxby's for supper. Again, probably bad idea. Too many calories and it made me queasy. Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon on the box, and then a goofy Puppy Bowl special that quickly became tiresome. Yeah, we get it, they're building a new "stadium" in the shape of a bone. As Addie Mills would say, "That's corny."
Just a funny feeling today; I had to keep catching myself thinking "Well, I'll have to get back to work tomorrow," just as if I were on vacation that's just ending. It was very strange to think I could actually continue a project tomorrow without having to worry about going back to purchase orders.
Oh, and another thing I'll never have to do again: an 8(a) contract. Thanks so very much!