25 April 2010

Another First Day

This is my last week at Friendship Shelter. Possibly my last week as an employee anywhere, which technically I haven’t been for a while [read: contractor] but operated as such – to the office almost every day with a full load of responsibilities and expectations, and a boss. And although I made this decision months ago, it comes now as a bit of a surprise. Here I go again: that first day of the rest of my life.

At nearly 62, one might say I’ve had over 22 thousand first days. Although, in truth, some of those days were decidedly last days and many were in-the-thick-of-it days. Still, thousands and thousands of opportunities to begin again. I’ve always gone in and out of the work-for-someone-else world. Plenty of full-time jobs, and an equal number of part-time jobs [which I have found to be simply full-time jobs squeezed into fewer hours, but one makes a choice.]

There are great pleasures to be found in the workplace – the pleasure of the collegial environment, the sense of shared purpose, support staff, resources. Then there are the obligations – showing up at the same time no matter what your bio-rhythms, the repetition, endless meetings. the frustration of inefficiencies, the occasional watching of the clock… anyone who has worked all their lives, as I have, knows this well. I’ve taken my share of risks over the years. I’ve been able to finagle flexible schedules or cultivated clients in order to live the freelance life, which is what I will do going forward, although not with the same energy or aggression as in the past – I no longer need or wish to work that hard nor do I, thankfully, need to make so much money. The girls are grown and flown. Good investments permit me a pension of sorts [contingent of course on the markets] and social security is within my grasp [thank you Rusty.]

Thankfully as well, I have a lifetime of skill and experience, and four years into my CA life, a network. Thus, a new client in Laguna Beach. The CT client more committed to marketing $ this year. A little bit of writing at very little pay, but this will satisfy the journalism itch. I begin the new life with roughly 15 – 20 hours a week of work to do and money coming in. Nearly perfect, for now.

Of course I will miss my colleagues. I will miss the comforts of regularity. I will find myself at some point before long hustling again for the next project. I will watch my checkbook a little too closely and worry about whether I can support my travel and entertainment habits. I will frustrate my financial advisor with pestering about how I might live this semi-retired life comfortably and die broke – the kids don’t need my money and I don’t wish to have to make more than I absolutely need to. Been there, done that. Still, a delicate balancing act.

And then there’s the question of how I will structure my days. There will be many where I will awaken, shower, dress and go to work, albeit at the kitchen table. However, I might choose to walk before I work. Or read. Now and then I will watch an old movie before I dress, the guiltiest of pleasures. The last time I was freelance, I read five pages of Proust every morning, and this is more than enough to stimulate creative juices. Enough to write a book, which I will. One more. Maybe two. Perhaps teach another class? Ah, the pleasures of starting over. An endless stream of possibilities, if one only looks forward. Yes, each day is a chance to begin again. And every time I do, I see the opportunities ahead. Mostly. A gamble worth taking.

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