I am watching John train the dogs. It is day eight of my retirement. I am so happy-so busy-so excited! I have a list of things to do a mile long that somehow seemed impossible before. I am relishing the oddest things- going through boxes and de-crapping our house, box by box, room by room. It will be a looong project and I am excited by the space and simplicity I will create. I am downsizing my cello studio-moving it upstairs to our “guest” room, which till now has been the “dump random crap and the unfolded laundry” room. In the fall, I will play in my flute/cello/piano trio again. It has been on hold for these last few years of teaching. I am creating a smaller upstairs cello studio just for me! I am waiting a year to decide whether to rejoin the local symphony orchestra. I LOVE playing in it -see my post about my childhood ambitions-but it locks me into a very late evening each week and six weekends a year. I think I need a year entirely free of these things, plus of course the obligation to practise for them. But, I will play! Two pieces are languishing that I have (supposedly ) been learning for… oops, years, now.
When my daughter and grandkids visit they all three have had to cram into one room. Now, there will be a couch to pull out for one of them there, and a REAL, dedicated guest room instead of the downstairs teaching studio, with its own half bathroom. It was a lovely teaching space and will be an ideal space now for visiting family. The timing is perfect-K is nearly 13 and too old to share a small bedroom with his Mom and younger sister for two weeks, plus HE needs a place to play his cello! On their annual long summer visit, the kids spend five days at the local performing arts camp at which I now get to be doting Gramma instead of teacher-Gramma frazzled mess, another thrill! Furniture is being moved and repurposed. New carpet is on the horizon. I love this. It seems retirement, like the arrival of a new baby, involves nesting.
Jon Katz frequent mentions that he will never talk of retiring-will never retire. I feel defensive although I know it is not about me. It has set me thinking. Retiring does not mean a narrowing to me but an expansion. Of my time. Of my soul. Freedom to be myself. Freedom from a rigid schedule. Freedom to lead a wider and bigger life. Freedom to watch John train the dogs; to dream in the hot tub without watching the clock; to use my energy and strength for me, and not always have to calculate how much physical and psychic energy I must conserve for the teaching. It was very very hard hard work, despite the wonderful job it was. Physically and emotionally. I always put everything I had into it. That did take a toll, narrowed my focus, depleted tolerance and played havoc with the discs in my back. A part of me was always playing a role. To be patient, to never ever lose my temper, to listen politely, to have impeccable language. To always be on time, to never slip up. People seeing the job from the outside do not see some of these harder aspects. The fact is- no matter how fond of your students you are- at bottom, sadly, it is a business transaction. A cynical music teacher friend once said: “The loyalty of a Suzuki parent has the thickness of a two dollar bill”. Although I would not go so far as that, this aspect has always been very hard for me, as my love for my students is very real. Yesterday, I made my quarterly deposit of student cheques at the bank. So many last things….
And firsts. My granddaughter M wants a twirly skirt. A long, twirly, skirt. PINK, with cats on it! At nine she will not be a little girl who adores me in a little girl way for very much longer. I am lucky she is still “little”. Some nine-year-olds are small teenagers already. I tell her Mom, my daughter, that I will sew her one. “You can SEW??” she says, astonished. I realize that I have not sewed since she was younger than six, when I started teaching.
I”ll end here, for now. I am off to find a fabric store.