retirement, round one
ken and i are together 24/7.
okay, you know what, that’s not entirely true, we’re not together 24/7, we’re together more like 48/14. we’re together so much it feels like we’re fucking conjoined.
‘hey, i have to pee.’
‘no, no… i have to pee.’
ken is retired, and i’m a writer. if you say retired and writer ten times really fast, you’ll get what i mean. it ends up sounding like retarded fighter. (i know, i know, I KNOW… politically incorrect) i work from home. i’ve worked from home since we’ve been married, which will be 20 years this may. i thought we had been married 20 years last may, but apparently i had read our marriage certificate wrong. so now we get to celebrate 20 again.
the point is: ken used to get up, and go to work, and i would be home writing.
well, that’s not entirely true, ken would get up, and go to work, and i would make believe i was writing, and then ken would come home and ask how my day went, how the writing was coming, and i would lift both hands in the air and say, ‘oh my god, my fingers hurt from writing all day long. i need a mani-pedi.’
and yes, god yes, my pants caught on fire.
day in & day out.
he would leave, and i would stare up at the ceiling, coffee cup & cigarettes near by (when i was a smoker, i’m no longer a smoker, but there are many days, more than i can count, that i wish i were still a smoker), and i would think about everything i wanted to write about, but didn’t want to get up off the couch. thank god for cats, they don’t need to be walked. they can entertain themselves and toss little balls around and be happy & content. many days i longed to be a cat.
ken would spend 12, 13, 15 hours working on a film or TV series, and come home spent, exhausted, depleted, and i would be lifting my hands up to the heavens feigning arthritis, and have the chipped nails to prove it.
and there were many, many, many days – an amazing amount of days – that ken would go to work (leaving at 4, or 5 in the morning), and i would get up, and sit at my computer, staring endlessly at the screen and screensaver, and then click my way over to solitaire, and/or writing/returning emails, and/or reading every piece of dreck online that i could find. and there were days, many, many, many days, when i would figuratively bang my head against the fucking computer screen slash screensaver, and then, when i heard ken’s key in the lock, i would instantly click on a WORD DOC, and make-believe i was writing.
“how was your day?
oh my fucking god, my fingers hurt.”
look at my chipped nails.
but now we’re both home.
we go to bed together, we wake up together.
well, that’s not entirely true, we go to bed together, but ken gets up – wakes up – a few hours before me.
he no longer works.
he loves retirement.
well, he doesn’t “love love” it, but he likes it plenty, and there are days i can find him swooning as he listens to the beat of his own iPod.
and even though i have my own room – yes, a room of my own – and even though we live in a fairly large, very comfortable house, i am no longer at ease lying on the couch staring up at the ceiling imagining grand stories that i will write, or wishing i had a pack of newports. although, truth be told, i still long to be a cat.
i replaced solitaire with facebook, and internet bowling.
i recently told ken that he has completely – completely and utterly – upset my daily rhythm by being home with me 24/7. that his being home with me completely disturbs, shakes, rattles my need, desire to be lying (yes, face-up) on the couch, staring up at the ceiling, thinking about all the things i want to write about but can’t, or won’t. that his being around, tip-toeing, lurking, being in the very next room talking out-loud to himself upsets my creative juices. that his coming into the living room, sitting down in the chair – while i’m staring at the screensaver wondering if i should go back to the black and white photos, or the squiggly colored images that would pop up every 60 seconds – disrupts my delicate thought process. that his retirement has stunted my growth as a writer, as opposed to the pack a day i smoked.
but the truth is, the dirty truth – the ripped from the headlines truth – is that his being home with me 24/7 (or really, truly more like 48/14) doesn’t allow me to lie to myself.
there i said it:
his being home with me doesn’t allow me to lie to myself.
i can no longer make believe i’m writing when i’m not writing.
and so now when he asks me how’s it going, i lift my hands up to the heavens, and i say: i’m leaving it up to the universe. and without missing a beat he says, you are the universe. and goes into this long amazing gorgeous lecture about faith and self-love and power, and owning our stories, and how words have power and tells me what a grand writer i am and no, no, no… you don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to be perfect…just write…just write, he says. write, write, write, write, and then he kisses me on the forehead, and rubs my shoulder, and offers me a hearty thumbs up, and then mouths the word: WRITE!
i really wonder how this retirement thing is gonna work out.
maybe, just maybe…
i should write about it.
or make-believe i did.
Author. Writer. Girl.
Book: Dancing at The Shame Prom, sharing the stories that kept us small – Anthology, Seal Press (2012) co-edited with Hollye Dexter
Book: Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From A Midlife Crisis, Seal Press (2010)