Before a meeting last night, one of my colleagues asked me if this was my only job. Did I have hobbies? Volunteer work? My first reaction was to kick into defense mode. Of course I stay busy. I have this ESL position, which requires planning lessons for two classes. I write. I volunteer for Ride to Recovery, when I can. I read. A lot. I’m a member of two book clubs. I travel a bit. I spend time with friends. I practice yoga. Yes, damnit, I’m busy.
On my way home later that evening, I reflected a bit more. She was just asking questions, getting to know me better in her own way. Her inquisitive nature wasn’t accusatory, but I took it that way, and I shouldn’t. This retired life is my own, and finally, after four years, I am moving beyond mourning my old teaching life and embracing the fabric of what is it to live without bells, surly and sweet adolescents, rising at 5:30, and eating lunch at 10:30. (Yes, A lunch began at 10:20 am. It took me a year to get over the hunger pains that would strike at that time.)
I told my husband the other day as I perused back to school photos on Facebook that this is the first year I honestly don’t miss those times. My heart doesn’t ache when I see a school bus lumber by. I no longer see myself setting up my classroom in August, or producing the slideshow for the first day assembly.
My life is quiet. Most days I choose what to do. I teach two ESL classes on Tuesdays, so Mondays are planning time. Some days I am on the couch with a book. I lunch with friends or go on solo day trips exploring the city or surrounding areas. I may write or nap or work on a puzzle. Occasionally, I volunteer. And there are days when bingeing a favorite tv show is all I want to do. And you know what? I’m good. I’m really really good.
I’m grateful for this life. For my sweet husband who never questions or judges when I have my down days. For my friends who understand and honor me. For a part-time job where I am still called Teacher, (yet not required to grade piles of essays or get up early every day.) For quiet mornings with hot coffee and my journal. For the freedom that comes with retirement.
And one last word for my teacher friends and family who are deep in the trenches. My heart is with you, my loves. Those kids need your wisdom, your passion, your laughter, and your endless supply of tissues and hand sanitizer. You are my truest heroes.
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ~Mark Twain