By Naomi Serviss / New York City
My husband’s on the cusp of retirement.
December 30th is Lew’s final night at the New York Times.
It’s been a multi-decade journey at the august paper of record.
A journalist his entire professional life, Lew has had his fill.
He loves the idea of journalism, but is less fond of what corporate-owned newspapers have morphed into.
Not much power or glory these days.
Not naming names.
Lew owes a good chunk of his success to covering news for a suburban Philadelphia paper, Today’s Sprit.
Before that he reported and edited for Temple University’s Temple News, a daily (!) student-run newspaper.
It happens to be where we met. Lew was an editor and I was–what else?–an entertainment columnist.
Seems like a million years ago and just like yesterday.
Time is not on our side anymore, no matter what Mick says.
This retirement journey, which started months ago with an official countdown, is the latest stepping stone on our never-boring life path.
I’m still struggling with feelings about this milestone.
Or is it millstone?
A mélange of mixed emotions scramble my musings over this momentous occasion.
Excited, terrified, thrilled and worried moods have all rented space in my psyche this past year and a half.
They’ve ebbed and flowed, running the gamut from euphoria to furrowed-browed anxiety over making ends meet once a major financial source evaporates.
It’s a lot to digest, and we’ve run out of antacid.
Colleagues are planning Zoom toasts and possibly some surprises along the way.
I know nothing.
Lew hates surprises.
I realized that after passionately planning and throwing his surprise 40th when we lived on Long Island.
I sweated the details to that one and was pretty darn proud of how it turned out.
Lew was secretly pleased, of course.
Saw friends from the past and out-of-town friends who made the trip out to our ‘burbs.
Got some good swag, too.
Mostly journalism joke gifts, all appreciated. That was 20-some years ago.
I never arranged a surprise like that ever again.
Lew’s older now and much more cranky.
Now our future might be graced with physical decrepitude. Who signed up for that? Large print books! How’d that happen?
But the thought of us being “retirement” age makes us sound so OLD! Oh, wait. Reality check, we are. Baby Boomer forever, here.
So why do I have total recall of certain college days but can’t ever remember where I put my:
My memory remains neon brilliant of the time I hitchhiked from Temple University and stupidly got into a nondescript (mid-sized Ford, maybe) car heading north up Broad Street from North Philadelphia, Temple’s stomping grounds.
Shockingly, I didn’t have an anxiety attack when the average-looking, 40-ish year-old driver removed the cloth over his crotch and flashed his erect digit!
My neutral face belied the terror within.
No visible reaction, but instinct flooded my engine.
Managed to get the hell out of the vehicle, calmly slamming the door behind me.
I never hitched again.
Regardless of memorable moments, retirement is Capital M Major.
Lew and I are both considered the detestable epithet, “seniors” (synonym for old and in the way). How are we to readjust to a new schedule of togetherness in a few weeks?
Our circadian rhythms couldn’t be more disparate.
Lew is the late-night owl, in bed around 3:30 a.m. and I’m up at 5 a.m. to make the proverbial doughnuts.
How did we make do all these years? Or maybe that’s why we stayed married?
We kept different hours! Win/win!
Will the stress of sharing our 750-sq.ft. one-bedroom apartment for even longer periods of time send me overboard? How can I possibly stand that?
Good thing I really like the guy.
One minute I’m all:
“Yay! You’ll get to hone your stupendous cooking skills and guitar prowess when you’re not working on your next book!
Then I think:
“He’d best not get in my jam.”
We’ve been through a million major life events, many of you have as well.
We still really, really like each other. Our quirky sense of the absurd has kept us in stitches for some 45 years.
Humor is the key to an enduring relationship
(I said to myself in my best shrink voice).
Some view retirement with trepidation and worry that it foretells the end of the line.
We look at it as the beginning.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com