Monday, December 19, 2005
55 plus one day
I suppose this ought to be an occasion to take stock of my life.
Have a mid-life crisis.
Do something different (learn to play the cello!!!)
Buy a sports car.
Run in a marathon.
Yet, in some respects I'm trapped in my situation. Not that there is anything really wrong with "my situation":
I'm getting ready to finally live off the fruits of my labors - after a lot of years of getting paid far more money than I was really worth. Now I don't anticipate ever having to work again, unless I get bored enough to want to.
I've lost 25% of my body weight in the past year or so, through better eating habits and regular, strenous exercise. The hardest part of starting to exercise for the first time in my life was getting started. Now, I couldn't imagine stopping. My health has improved immensely; I haven't had a cold since I began this new lifestyle; I feel more alive, more willing to get up and do things; I sleep better; my cholesterol level is way down; I can now wear clothes and coats I used to wear more than 20 years ago - in fact yesterday I put on my down coat that I bought in 1975 at Sears, and it fit!
Losing weight and gaining health is part of what motivated me to pick up the cello, after so many years of being away from music.
We've actually already lived our "dream" (from when we were in our early 20s) - we did move to Alaska 30 years ago, we did get our 10 acres of land far out of town near a lake and a salmon creek, and we did build our own house by ourselves. It's rather unique, but comfortable with plenty of room for storage and lots of nooks and working areas. It's got nice cedar siding, lots of windows, a large deck, and is quite private. The interior is in good shape and we have plenty of furniture and toys to play with.
Our three kids are all doing well in their lives, and for the most part are happy, well-adjusted, and likely to live prosperously. We have one granddaughter, so far. Z is only 13 - a late surprise (and an opportunity to feel young again as we have been raising him). I was so happy to have a chance to try again to be a decent father. I think I'm succeeding.
We have four cars with only two drivers. Also a full-size diesel motorhome, that is more than half way paid off. We've lived overseas, twice. We've traveled via motorhome to more than 2/3 of the states, and expect that we'll eventually get to the rest (except Hawaii). We've been there, done that, too.
In my old job at Brand X, I flew more than a million miles (mostly first class) to most of the major cities around the country, rented full size cars, stayed in top-notch hotels, ate at 5 star restaurants. The conceirges at the hotels and airport member's lounges Washington DC, Seattle, and Anchorage began to know me by name. My car was always waiting. My rooms were often upgraded to suites, etc., etc. Once, I hosted a dinner at Brennans in New Orleans for 10 colleagues - the bill was for more than $5,000.
Then one day I realized that I hated traveling (total and complete burnout) and I started finding excuses to get out of it. I began to suggest it was time for one or another of my subordinates to get involved. One time, I was supposed to go first to Japan, then onto Korea, and finally to Taiwan to accompany our sales manager as a technical expert. I faked the flu and was able to get out of the Japan and Korea parts of the trip, and then met up with him in Taiwan - the only leg of the trip that was important. I passed on the opportunity to spend three days in Tokyo! and I've always wanted to see Tokyo, just not in the company of that a..hole. Another time, I claimed Z was too sick for me to leave the country for a long stretch and skipped out on a ten day trip to Korea - my boss's boss had to go in my place. But I didn't pass on the trip to Brazil and Argentina - with a few extra days on either side to see the sights (Copacobana Beach!) and to visit some friends in Argentina.
Ever since then, I have an aversion to traveling by air - now that flying has become so much more onerous, with longer lines, more delays, more crowded and stuffy cabins, less amenities. I'd really rather take 4 days and drive one-way to Seattle instead of the day (more or less) that it takes to fly there.
So where was I? Oh, yeah. Counting my blessings, or taking stock...
Y and I have a remarkably good relationship after 34.5 years of marriage. We've done it all together (except my work related traveling). We've been faithful, and supportive of each other. We generally decide on things together, and we both try to please each other in various ways. We more-or-less agree about issues raising Z. We've adjusted to retirement together - dividing responsibilities and giving each other enough room to avoid getting on one another's nerves. There are things we don't agree on (for example she HATES my TV selections), and we do have our differences of opinion about many things. But somehow, we work on it to make sure we think of each other's concerns and try to make it all work. I won't deny my roving eye has always annoyed her, even though I only look and never touch. I can't help but appreciate a well-turned thigh in a short skirt - although those are few and far between in Alaska especially in the winter.
I guess you could say I've got it all. So why did I say I feel trapped in my situation?