When my department chair and boss, Ozzie Ostwalt, asked if I wanted a party I said no.
When he said, "how 'bout just the department in the conference room with cookies?" I said yes.
Cookies and a small group I could handle.
And some close friends came by also.
And Jack brought brand new baby Darcy!
And my buddy Don Barley came
And so did Alice, the very cool woman who replaced me as secretary in the Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
And it was a very happy day.
Well, I admit to getting a teeny bit weepy when my former chair, Jesse Taylor, said some pretty nice things about our time together.
And, okay, so I got weepy again during the presentation of a very, very special gift. (another story for another day)
The retirement was officially from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
But the road to retirement was long.
Beginning with my first job at Whitey's Candy Store in Cambridge, MD when I was still in high school.
My friend Pam Mills (STILL one of my closest friends) and I worked together after school and on Saturdays. We still share some laughs about those days.
The list grows -
Airpax Electronics during the summer before going off to college.
A 7/11 store back in Cambridge after leaving Brandywine College in Wilmington, DE for some of THE most ridiculous reasons ever. (and I'm still waiting for that last and final paycheck from the 7/11, by the way).
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen,MD (Aberdeen was where was dad was raised. I had a lot of relatives here and this was a fun time. I met husband #1 here. Another story for another day)
Delta Airlines, Atlanta, GA (where I was sent home several times to put on a longer dress. Pants or pantsuits were not allowed. It was 1968 - dresses were short when bought for God's sake. I was also "asked" to take my 2 weeks vacation when I was going through a divorce to help keep down "the talk." Delta and I did not get along well. Another story for another day)
Southern Airways, Atlanta, GA (I loved loved loved working at Southern Airways. I also met husband #2 here. Another story for another day)
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta,GA (lots of stories for another day)
Trust Company Bank, Atlanta, GA (lots of stories for another day, but it was fun to just walk out of here one day and never go back and never look back)
BMW of North America, Atlanta, GA (oh my - lots more stories for another day)
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA (went right back to the office I had worked in years before and felt like I had never left. And this when I met Donald Barley).
Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, GA (my favorite job ever. I still love so many of the people I worked with and for and have kept them close. More stories for another day).
Appalachian State University, Boone, NC (Final job. Suffice to say, I was ready to leave when I left. ASU changed a great deal during the 14 years I worked there. I have some great memories and some that are not so great. I was blessed with great bosses though who will remain life-long friends)
Scattered through all these "real" jobs were many part time jobs I needed to work during some rough patches. Most were evening jobs. Some were late night jobs.
I worked sales in jewelry at Bailey, Banks & Biddle and at Macy's Department Store. I worked for a construction company in a trailer at nights at the Atlanta Airport while new runways were being built. I was a hostess/cocktail waitress at The Atlanta City Club. Served up fried chicken at the take-out window at a restaurant in the "new" Atlanta Hilton Hotel while wearing an ugly and ridiculous short little plaid dress with puffy sleeves. (I was written up at this job a dozen times for various infractions. Another story for another day).
When I was able to take early retirement, I did not hesitate.
Financially not as rewarding as it would have been had I waited until now, but - you know? So. What.
I have never had a lot of money. Never will.
But, there hasn't really been anything I've wanted that I haven't, sooner or later and with hard work, been able to have. Well. Not true - there's that beach house . . .
There certainly hasn't been anything I really needed like a roof over my head or enough to eat that I've had to do without.
There are many, sadly, who cannot say that.
And they've worked, in many cases, a whole hell of a lot harder than I ever have.
Honestly, this time of my life has been my happiest.
I am, right now, at my most content, and my most creative.
Since retiring I've had essays published in two regional anthologies, and reprinted in regional magazines, one short story published in a regional anthology, a short story published in Southern Writer's Magazine (and shortlisted as a top 10 finalist). I've published a novel and helped Harley Barley write and publish his book. And I'm still writing.
I've joined the gym. (okay - so I've been a little slack here lately . . . ).
I've taken a wealth of courses and classes, including photography which has become a bit of an obsession with me. I can't seem to leave the house without my camera. Sometimes I can't even go from the upstairs to the downstairs without it.
I'm still picking up my knitting and stitching pieces from time to time and I'm prone to getting up at odd hours to put together a collage.
I'm spreading my wings which is exactly what I promised myself I would do when I retired. And I'm doing a little bit of volunteer work.
Okay. So yes - there is a downside or two, to be honest.
a couple things I've learned.
I'm a person who needs structure or I accomplish nothing.
I mean nothing.
Unless you can count hanging out with friends at Facebook all day.
So - there's that. I really have to make myself be productive some days.
And yeah, the money part I will admit that has put a bit of a damper on getting to go to as many book conventions as I'd like. I am going to Bouchercon in New Orleans this year and can hardly wait. But that may be my last con for awhile.
Donald will be looking at retirement soon and that travel money will be taking us on the road together.
So there are still adventures to be had.
Life is good.