It has been a long time since I have written anything that I wanted to share with anyone. I am not sure why I am starting this again, though I have thought about doing a new blog since the end of July, when I talked with my friends at our annual college classmates reunion, this year in Chicago. All of us have had rewarding professional lives, all of us have re-invented ourselves for this next stage of our finite rotations around the sun. My psychologist friend, who read and bought multiple copies of my little memoir My Vacation at the Beach which focused on my transition from full time college professor to full time nanny, suggested that our "type" (achievement-oriented professionals who found most of their identity through their work) might like to read a blog on what comes after the career but before the grave--not to be morbid, but that will be the next guaranteed outcome: no one gets out of here alive. I liked the idea of doing that, but since I had decided to go back to my career part time and I have also discovered watercolour painting, I didn't find time to start until today.
file://localhost/Users/susanegunter/Pictures/iPhoto%20Library.photolibrary/Masters/2013/10/24/20131024-181233/IMG_0719.JPGThis morning I awoke late--for me, 8:00AM--and decided that after I made Bill's birthday coffee (he is 69 today) I would take a half hour run in the meadow half a block from our house. I am lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places on our planet, Park City, Utah. We have unparalleled outdoor recreation and we live on the cusp of the wilderness: this past week a mother and baby moose have visited our vegetable garden several times, the last time having a sleepover in the middle of the remains of our swiss chard--probably chard is to them as chocolate is to me--having mowed down most of it in their four hour eating frenzy. I think that they were so exhausted from this feast that they literally dropped in their tracks. And besides our proximity to unspoiled beauty, we are about 35 minutes from a major airport and a smallish city with lots of music, theatre, art, and libraries. And I have super friends plus a devoted partner who shares all this with me and in fact maintains said garden and pond, an attraction for wildlife and birds. When Bill was painting the garage door yesterday, a small deer charged past him running down the path, nearly knocking him over.
So, what else could I want? I have lived in other places, n the Balkans and in inner city areas, so I know that this place is unique--there are few other towns as beautiful, interesting, clean, and SAFE. We have not looked our front door in 25 years, except when we are on trips out of town.
So, what's up, pussycat? What in the world is wrong with me? As Freud said, "What do women want?" But of course he was something of a sexist, as he could just as well have said, "What do humans want?" Along with our increased cranial capacity and our prehensile thumbs, evolution gave us desire: desire makes us move, achieve, change, invent. And so here we are, having nearly invented ourselves out of existence. Simply put, I want more--more time, more adventure, more love.
I am now over the worst of the shock of going from college prof to nanny and now to adjunct / dilettante painter and writer / socializer. For the most part I am content with the myriad things that I do, and I even have a schedule of sorts now: I teach a college writing class on Mondays and Wednesday afternoons, I take watercolour class on Wednesday morning, I go to water aerobics on Monday and Friday mornings, I run early Wednesday mornings, and I do tai chi alone in my bedroom for 45 minutes at least twice a week. And I go to brunches, lunches, and dinners with all kinds of interesting, intelligent friends. What's wrong with that?
Well, right now, with all the serotonin my body built up over my morning run, nothing. But other times, like when I go to campus and most of the other professors ignore me (though I am at a safe enough distance now that some of them vent their frustrations with administrators, marketing the school, colleagues, etc.) I wonder why I gave up things like being president of the faculty, department chair (actually that was easy--the department fought bitterly most of the time), and internationally known scholar. Now I am a sort of harmless doddering absent minded professor who remembers the students' names but forgets when their papers are due--lucky them!--and is making a fraction of the money that I made three years ago. But I know why I went back to work: it is so when someone asks me who I am and what I do, I can honestly say, "I am a college professor." In my mind, that has more appeal than saying, "I am someone who paints like a three-year-old, runs like an eighty-year-old, and stands in the middle of a room forgetting why I am there."
So, I hope I will find some readers with whom I can correspond. I want to know how others feel as they go through these kinds of transitions, knowing what is in store yet still believing, somehow, that there is more to life than retirement.