What Does Survive?

What Does Survive?

Back in Placitas and Planning My Writing Life

From the author of What Survives

All my life (since the age of five) I dreamed of becoming two things: one, a psychoanalyst and two, a writer. These desires survived. It is hard for me to believe that I have been fortunate enough to achieve both, but at the end of July of this year, I will close my private practice and begin my writing life. I thought this shift in my time here on earth might be interesting to write about and read about, especially in these tough times for both retirement and the arts.

My vision of this transition may prove to be somewhat different from the realities I might envision.

Scenario I: I rise at dawn and write for several hours; then I greet my husband in the kitchen for breakfast. After an easy, slow breakfast and one or two cups of coffee, I (or we) will take our Australian cattle dog, Django for a leisurely walk. We (or I) will come back from the walk and take a nap. After the nap, I will write for several more hours and then my husband and I will meet again in the kitchen to discuss dinner. In between all of this, together or separately we will shop, cook, garden, do email and spend quality time together. I will write this blog, attend Turkish language classes, study Turkish, read voraciously, meet with my mentors, brush Django’s teeth, and if there is enough time, brush mine. In retirement, I also hope to exercise and to travel; don’t we all?

Scenario II: I rise at 8 or 9a.m., give or take an hour or two, watch my husband sleeping, turn on the news without the sound and scratch our Australian cattle dog who jumps between us demanding his breakfast. No alarms or clocks exist any longer in our house. Well, they do exist, but none of them work and neither of us feels motivated to repair them. I go into my office, after feeding Django and letting him outside, and sit and stare at my computer. Since closing my practice I haven’t written a word. Django waits patiently at my feet, a loyal author’s dog. For several hours I stare; then I lean over and scratch Django. “I’m sorry fellow,” I tell him. “I’m too tired for a walk today.” My husband rescues me by knocking on the door. “Have you eaten breakfast?” he asks. “There isn’t any food in the house,” I complain. “Let’s go to the Cafe.” We run into friends there, another writer and her husband. We sit and chat for two hours while we drink more coffee. Now it’s close to dinner. The four of us move to another local restaurant. My friend hasn’t written anything today either. We commiserate.

Scenario III: I roll over in bed at noon. Django is outside since yesterday so he doesn’t wake us up in the morning. We leave him in the dog run now with his dinner and his breakfast. Poor boy. We tell him how sorry we are. At 1 p.m., I must go to the bathroom. My husband is still sleeping. I wake him up when I trip over an empty wine bottle. It bangs against my empty glass. I pee, flush and go to my computer. When I open my mail, I immediately close it again. There are 753 of these damn things–mostly ads for the Democratic Party. I don’t know why they’re still coming. Trump has been coronated and there are no parties any longer. If only my husband and I had gotten out of bed and marched. If only I had dusted the paper tray in the printer and inserted more paper. If only I’d written something, anything. And this is when I ask, Why did I ever retire in the first place?

This is the stuff of retirement dreams and nightmares. Stay tuned and let’s see what survives.



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