When I hear about reunions with people I haven’t been in touch with for thirty or forty years, I don’t rush to put them on my calendar in ink. Until recently, with the exception of my fellow band geeks, I hadn’t given much thought to what my high school classmates might have done with their lives. Ditto for my summer crowd
It was a 45 minute bus ride to my regional high school, where only 40 per cent of the students went on to college. The cute guys were more likely to be in auto mechanics and shop than in my calculus or physics classes. Let me amend that. The bad boys that I found fascinating were more likely to be mechanics and shoppies.
We lived year round in a summer community, and the seasonal folks came from all around our state. Looking back, it makes sense that they had the potential to become really interesting adults. But adult potential wasn’t something that concerned me.
Here is my deep dark secret. I was a shallow teenager, not prone to introspection and philosophizing. I was more interested in how attractive my girlfriend’s brother had become during his freshman year in college. Or the muscles that my brother’s beach buddies had developed over the winter.
One thing that has surprised me about the people from my past with whom I’ve reconnected as I approach retirement is how interesting they seem to be. They are smart and well-traveled—one was even in the Peace Corps. The biggest revelation is that they are amazingly creative, especially those who are already retired. This gives me hope for my own retirement.
One of my summer friends does puppetry with her husband. She studied it in Prague decades ago. We’re talking serious stuff, not faces drawn on your fingertips in ball point pen. A college classmate took up clarinet late in life and is totally immersed in her community band. My brother, who retired very early, became a fabulous outdoor photographer once he had the time to pursue it. [Check out his recent fall trip. http://www.pbase.com/rickdecker/sigma_dp1x and http://www.pbase.com/rickdecker/gallery/sd15_fall_2010
I used to do all sorts of artsy things. The company where I worked had a holiday doll pageant. They provided naked dolls (no snickering, please) and asked employees to make or buy outfits for them so they could be donated. They gave prizes in four categories for the handmade outfits. I won first prize thirteen years in a row and eventually captured first in each of the four categories. Mutter “competitive b- - -h” all you want, but I truly enjoyed doing it.
Perhaps retirement will afford me the time and the opportunity to take up new artistic pursuits, like photography. I bought a Nikon digital camera several years ago, but my eyes are so bad, I have trouble focusing. Jagdish would like to learn ballroom dancing. He has two left feet and I’ve broken both of mine (mercifully, not at the same time.) Also, his rhythm is distinctly Indian, and then there’s my diminishing sense of balance. Dancing doesn’t seem too promising an option. I suppose writing is creative, but I was hoping for something more… well, artsy. (Or flamboyant?)
I’m sitting here, trying to feel creative, looking around for inspiration. My computer keyboard catches my eye. Some of the keys are almost completely clean, while others have dark, smudgy spots around their perimeters. I wonder why all the keys aren’t smudged. The cleanest ones are the home row, and the dirtiest are the numbers. Maybe Lily walks along the upper edge with her dirty paws and the keys I use most often are the cleanest. But the function keys on the very top row are also clean. There goes the Lily theory. I’m perplexed. I’m also tempted to go get some Qtips and cleaning fluid.
Then I get into Jagdish’s glass half empty/half full mode of thought (see last Wednesday’s blog.) Were the keys with the white spots in the middle at one point totally smudged, so now are half clean? Or were the white spots never covered, and somehow the smudges only accumulated around the perimeter, so now half dirty?
It doesn’t say much for my creative sparking that I’m so easily distracted by a computer keyboard. I’m feeling quite inadequate compared to my peers. What we have here is a failure to find a muse. I don’t know about you, but if there’s one place I’d expect to find my muse, it’s at the bottom of a—you guessed it—lovely bottle of vino.