When I was in my forties and even my fifties, retirement seemed forever away. Then suddenly I was sixty-five, eligible for Medicare, and attending retirement seminars at work. After filling out and submitting numerous forms over the course of months, I was down to my last week of work after three decades at the same agency, explaining my projects to the 30-year-old who’s taking my place.
My career as a project manager was unplanned and arrived at circuitously. I had no idea what I wanted to do job-wise and no sense or reasonable assessment of the skills I possessed. I had an undergraduate degree in zoology and a master’s degree in education. I’d also studied graphic arts for a couple of years and Spanish literature for a year and a half. I was at a loss as to what I was suited for, what I could devote myself to, what I could make a living at. So after thumbing through the UW graduate catalog, I considered the School of Public Affairs as a potential path to – something.
Indeed, that something became an internship at the King County Solid Waste Division in 1987, leading to a permanent position the following year. The rest, as they say, is history – or at least the majority of my resume.
Several years after I began my job, I finally discovered what I’d wanted to do all along – write fiction. It was something I couldn’t possibly make a living doing. Luckily, I was employed full-time at a job I liked and that was contributing to the betterment of our community and the environment. My life was a balancing act with job, family, and writing, often stressful, but the kind of stressful you accept as part of being lucky to have all three.
Now some thirty years later, I have undergone a year full of change.
Last spring my husband and I sold our ramshackle house after years of talking about remodeling or rebuilding it. I wrote a little essay about this house we raised our two daughters in and read it (18:24 mark) at Ampersand Live this past October.
We’re in an apartment now until we can decide next steps. I’m kind of in love with our apartment life. It feels snug and tucked away. Plus, it’s stripped down in terms of what we can own in our 724-square-foot existence.
In the summer, I turned 65. That, along with signing up for Medicare, seemed the threshold to being officially old – when time accelerates to that dimension where one day you’re 65 and the next day you’re 80.
This winter, my day-job came to a close. People wished me well, gave me cards with lovely sentiments, told me what I had meant to them. They made me realize that my work and my presence have had an impact.
Meanwhile, our daughters are off finding their place in the world.
All that’s left to do is write.