It’s been a while, but I’m back. And now, I’m retired. It’s a very strange and wonderful space. I thought I’d share some of my experience here.

Entry 1; January 26, 2023

I recently discovered that the last day of this year will be 123123. 12/31/23, that is. I have always been fascinated by number patterns. I think it started about 15 years ago when one of my students (a brilliant child in the 2nd grade who had a twin, one twin excelling in math, the other in language arts), would run up to me every day exclaiming, “Ms. Engel! Look at the clock! It’s a palindrome!” A palindrome, for those of you who don’t know, is when a group of symbols is the same backwards as forwards. Those symbols can be letters, numbers, or emoticons. Thus, 21012, racecar, or Able was I ‘ere I saw Elba (this is what Napoleon must have muttered when he was exiled). Now, forevermore, when I see a palindrome, or a pattern like 12/31/23, I am immediately excited. 12/31/23. Remove the slashes and what do you get? 123123. Say it with me, now. 123123 123123 123123. What image is stuck in your head now? Is it a waltz? Or at least, some kind of dance. 123123 123123. 

Just a few days ago, I invited everyone to a dance party. There is no specific date yet. I am not ready to dance. Actually, I am barely walking, but I anticipate that is something I will do again. Walk. The simple act of walking is the thing I think about the most. I never imagined that simply walking, comfortably, upright, without assistance, with a strong, supple body that can support my weight, is something I would long for the most in life. And yet, here I am. Spending almost every waking moment attempting to create the most basic thing. Perhaps this is what is meant by starting over. Perhaps in retirement, I am learning how to live all over again, and I’ve got to go back to the basics. 

So, why a dance party? Because I am projecting my future into my present reality. After mere walking, the movement I would desire most for my body would be dancing. Funny, I thought perhaps it would be sex, but that’s a whole different dynamic. That would involve someone else, perhaps a relationship, and right now, I’m getting reacquainted with myself. Perhaps that is not entirely true. I am reinventing myself. I am, as Dr. Joe Dispenza would say, recreating my personality. (He is a science-based meditation leader that I am following presently.)

I suppose this all begs the question, why am I starting over? The simple answer is –  I retired in May. It is now January. My game plan was to retire, wake up on my own time, and travel the world. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I was 15.

I got the idea because I saw my aunt, Carol, go to Europe several times. The first time she went, she traveled by herself. What freedom! That sparked my desire for adventure.

Then, I had a crush on our camp counselor, Reuben, at Camp Wayne sleep-away camp. Two months every summer, without parents around, except the one time they came up for the parents’ weekend. Two months tucked in the mountains of Pennsylvania, surrounded by tall, green hardwoods with a mile-long lake between the girls and the boys side that I once swam in a race (I lost, but I finished). Reuben was the owner’s cousin. He was in his 30’s, with long hair and strong arms. Nowadays, he would probably be accused of sexual harassment, but my bunk mates and I would sneak over to the infirmary where he was housed, smoke his weed, snuggle with him on his bed (no hanky panky), and he would tell us his tales of traveling the world with his little dog, Trina. That was my first real taste of wanderlust. 

I graduated early from high school (skipped 8th grade) and was blessed with a gift to Europe for 2 months. (Apparently, my grandparents needed to get rid of me for the summers.) I spent a month at an old estate that was donated to the state during some war or another in France, then turned into a dormitory for students studying classical music at a nearby conservatory. Luckily, they also housed Students Abroad, my group, and we were there to learn French. The only thing I learned was how to flirt with intellectual, student musicians from Yugoslavia, and cute French men in the cafes. 

After the dorm adventure, we traveled to 3 cities: London, Paris, and Amsterdam. This trip helped to cement my wanderlust. I’ve done quite a bit of international travel since then. 

Did I mention that I retired in May? My plan was to travel until I couldn’t take it anymore. Every which way. Rent a house for several months. Go on tours. Perhaps backpack like the olden days. Perhaps become a speaker for Climate Reality or some other environmental group. And then, when I was road-weary, I would settle down and figure out the rest of my life. 

Here’s what I didn’t count on. 1. My back betraying me. 2. I don’t really know what to do with myself. 3. Traveling takes money and coordination (well, I knew that).

That’s it for today, folks. I figured you could use a cliff hanger. My next post will be a continuation…. 

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