Painting by Jennifer Branch
Have you ever waited for your ship to come in and then actually have it come in? But you discover it wasn't what you expected?
Before I left my six-month long temp job at the Health Department, I bragged to my coffee-break friends that I would be retiring when my assignment was over at the end of April. My husband went ahead and fully retired in the middle of March, in expectation of that ship. This wasn't some unrealistic fantasy, mind you. It wasn't a pipe dream - we had reports that the ship was coming our way, and then that it headed toward the harbor. It had, in fact, arrived two weeks earlier than expected. But when it docked, lo and behold, our long-awaited Ship of Dreams was not an aircraft carrier, not an ocean liner, not a yacht, not even a motorboat. It was a little old dinghy.
The trouble is, I had really counted my chickens. Yes, I know we are told not to do that. But still, it was hard to resist. Retire at 62? Certainly. Combine a mini-vacation with my cousin's wedding in Minneapolis in June? Not a problem. Travel around the country? That would be so great. Help out my sister? She deserves it. A four-wheel drive for Dan? He deserves that too.
Ah well, it was not meant to be. And actually, we may not even be able to do the things that really need doing, like replacing our leaky roof, getting a physical and new glasses and paying the real estate taxes in full.
I don't mean to suggest this little dinghy is unwelcome. It will help us relax and put some sunshine in our days. We can float serenely upon the calm waters and not worry about wolves at our door (to really mix metaphors). And, as WOL so insightfully says in her comment to this post, it's better than being up the creek without a paddle, a situation I have found myself in way too many times in the past.
I must have had a premonition of all this when I left the health department that last Friday. I did not have the feeling that I was leaving work for the last time. There were no thoughts of no more soul-sucking jobs, no more bad bosses, no more nasty co-workers, no more drudgery and boredom.
And sure enough, after a two-week break, I'm back on the job at another temporary assignment. So what comes next? Will I semi-retire when I am eligible to draw Social Security at the end of June? Or will I keep on taking assignments? For sure, there will be no attempt to find a permanent job. The one thing I am sure about is that I am completely through with resumes and interviews.
I dunno. The only thing I have plans to do is hop aboard that sturdy, reliable little dinghy and enjoy my summer to the fullest.