I was recently asked this question when I saw a long-time acquaintance the other evening. We had not seen each other for a number of years. Retired? I don’t know why I shy away from that word. Over 5 years ago, I was brusquely told that the job I had held and had done exceptionally well for 8 years was eliminated. Goodbye, pack your things today or came back another time to do it. You guessed, I moved out that day.
Wow! Until last year, I regularly perused the job listings. I subscribed to different platforms on which jobs for which I was qualified (and maybe over-qualified) were posted. I had interviews, too. There was the flying trip to Qatar! The Chicago airport bungled my connection on the trip to Illinois; the consolation was on the return flight. A fellow traveler was bringing a new kitten home; nothing like kitten therapy for a cat lover. There was the bungled SKYPE interview in the hospital just after surgery! The organizer forgot to get us both connected. No offers came. I do believe ageism is part of the ratio.
In the past when I’d had a hiatus between jobs, I picked up consulting gigs. Most were with small local museums and collectors in a variety of capacities. I was able to do this again, though I did not actively seek it out. I even designed and taught a workshop for visiting Brazilian museum professionals. And a foray of on-line teaching for a colleague at the University of the West Indies. Giving papers and writing was another way to keep up my professional identity, both as museum specialist and as folklorist and Sephardic studies scholar. Oh, I also continue to volunteer.
Retired? Well, maybe. I no longer have a job in my professional capacity after 30+ years. What in the world do I do? For the past 2 years, I have worked as an usher at our local theater, the Colony Theater, one of Miami Beach’s Art Deco gems. Thank you Mr. Steele of Columbus Eastmoor High School. Four years of Spanish in your classroom (along with continued research) have served me well with Spanish-speaking audience members – except when they speak too fast!
I’ve also been a tour guide for the past year. For one company I have infrequently given Art Deco walking tours of Miami Beach. For another, I’ve brushed up my Greek language skills to give city tours. Except … as soon as we enter Little Havana, for some reason the Spanish takes over! If you find yourself coming this way, let me know I can take you around for a fee to be determined!
Why am I dithering on about this? I’m in a process of self-reconciliation as I try to transition from a consummate professional who wore several hats to a community member working in community activities and going to senior exercises classes. I still do dabble in the profession when I can – helping to edit an on-line Sephardic journal, writing reviews and the occasional article, writing this blog.
I recently had an uncomfortable moment at the theater when a University professor who works in similar areas that I also work in entered. We had met several times, yet she does not know me from Adam. Who am I, I wondered all evening and apparently am still wondering. What happened to me? Yes, I miss my professional work. And yes, I really enjoy the activities which somehow fill my days of doing nothing. It really is not nothing.
In the midst of this angst, I pulled up my weekly horoscope (August 15). For years I’ve read Rob Brezny Free Will Astrology (http://live.ezezine.com/ezine/archives/3_11/3_11-2019.08.11.23.37.archive.html). Well, he had some gobble-de-gook guiding me to “be proactive about saving and preserving valuable resources before they’re at risk of being diluted, compromised, or neglected.” Wow, I should do something actively to hold onto the past somehow, and also move forward. I can hang onto the past as well as embrace the future. This week’s perfectly timed horoscope was just what I needed. Brezny also wrote this week of what he calls a “Fate Bait.” Read about it in the link above – serendipitously it speaks to my immediate situation. There is a major project using my accumulated museum work knowledge in the works. More about that if it progresses.
Reflecting on all of this mental angst, I realized that I’m not retired, but retreaded. Think of the language … re-tire or to tire again. Does that mean to put a new tread on a tire? If so, then I am re-treading … I have added a new tread to my lifeways. I am still the original me with an added dimension, a new tread. Maybe I’m not retired, but retreaded! And, though the transition period will still continue, I’ll just keep rolling on! What do you think?