I cannot pin point the exact moment that I came to the harsh realization that I may actually live long enough to retire. I did not consider myself a goddess in high school and certainly did not treat my body like a temple as I became of legal drinking age. No, back in my twenties, my fitness routine consisted of walking from my car to happy hour and chasing edgy guys. You know, the adrenaline rush kind that were more likely to be incarcerated than amount to anything worthy of a standing ovation.
Yes, I was living every day like I was dying even before Tim McGraw recorded the song that actually encouraged us to do just that. My “ah ha” moment, the deer in the headlights moment, the synapses firing off in my brain like a paparazzi moment, that kind of moment came when I met Don. I had barely survived my twenties and was now living each moment like maybe, just maybe I would live to see another day, month, year even. Don was a 180 from the party in the box guy that had been in my life up to that point. He was educated; physically fit; had a decent job; was blatantly responsible to a fault; frugal to the point of being able to squeeze the buffalo off a nickel; and an added bonus, he was GQ attractive. He was the complete unencumbered package and he was going to save me from myself.
Deep in credit card debt, and never having saved a dime in my life let alone put any money aside in any pension plan for oh the awful thought of being old enough to “retire”, Don made it abundantly clear in a very parent-child way, that he would not take on my debt when he took me to be his wife. I was by myself on that island. Oh well, at least there wasn’t anyone on the island with me to boot me off. So much for saving me from myself. “A river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” If I am anything at all, I am persistent. Paying off that mound of debt was like negotiating for world peace. I did finally prevail and declared myself debt free many years later, I also declared myself “unattached”. Turns out that frugal is not a word in my vocabulary and being blatantly responsible can be, well…..a yawn.
Fast forward age 63. Wow how did I get here? Okay, over the years I have reasonably taken good care of myself; exercise frequently, imbibe socially, had a couple great jobs; have a debit balance in my checking account, wove together the fabric of a remarkable relationship of over twenty years, saved some money in my 401(k) Plan; and am incredibly responsible, even to a fault. Don I know you are smiling!
The harsh realization that I have lived long enough to retire is like knowing the light at the end of the tunnel is really a speeding train headed in my direction and I can’t get out of the way. Did you ever see that Prudential commercial where people walk down the lane in anticipation of how many years their retirement savings will last them? My walk of shame down that lane was pretty short. Granted, none of us are guaranteed another day and in that vain over the past twenty years I have justified my travel splurges to islands afar; stayed in some really WOW villas on top of mountains overlooking the expanse of the turquoise blue Caribbean that rendered me speechless in its beauty, and had close encounters with sharks and eagle rays learning to respect that I am in their world, not the other way around. I have, simply put, done some really cool stuff and have incredible memories etched in my mind.
Frankly, they say life is too short to play small. There is no rewind or replay and here I am. So how will I live what’s left?