Last Saturday my sister and I each drove from our homes, to a town we’d never been to before, to spend the afternoon together. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Spoons and walked along the two block downtown wandering in and out of shops.
In an old-school music shop, the clerk greeted us and asked how we were.
“Good,” we answered. “How are you?”
“Great!” he said. “I’m doing what I love.”
I recognized a man who wanted to tell a story, so of course I asked. After “retiring,” he looked around his house at what he had collected all his life. He considered what his kids would do with the three rooms of albums he had lovingly acquired and knew they would just want to sell them. So, he opened the shop. Now he gets to talk about music all day long and sells his albums online across the country.
My sister is retired herself, from a career in tech. Just a few months in, she is still feeling her way. She thought she’d see if a community orchestra could use a flute player, but when there was a waiting list for flutes, she agreed to play the bass drum. Now my sister is just an inch taller than short little me and, while she clearly reads music, has never played percussion. She says it’s a little nerve-racking to lose your place in the long periods between her parts. I mean, it’s not like you could hide the boom of a bass drum coming in at the wrong time. Still, it must be exhilarating to get it right.
She shared a story from The Moth with me. Cynthia Riggs had a degree in marine biology and a career as a boat captain. She reinvented herself once to join her mother in running a bed and breakfast, then again to become a mystery writer at age 70. Her life took a further turn with a late-in-life love story told here, but that’s another tale.
I have a good friend who retired early from teaching when the stress became too much. She went back to school to become a massage therapist. These days she massages two days a week, as well as being an elf at Christmas and the Easter Bunny in the spring at a sporting goods store. In the summer, she adds on ushering at baseball games. She says she’s having fun with it all and she loves being appreciated everywhere she works.
As I get closer to the point where I might want to retire myself, I’m finding that it’s more of a beginning than an end. Not quite the open options of when we were eighteen, but certainly full of possibility.
After our shopping, my sister and I drove around looking for a park to stroll through. As happens in small towns, a wrong turn led us out of town, down winding country roads. We stopped at a canal and took a walk down the trail, enjoying the sunshine.
You never know what you’ll find at the next turn in the road.