So I finally returned to work this past Tuesday. I was off for nearly six weeks. Right from the first, since I knew it would likely be for an extended time, I considered the time off as a sampler of my impending retirement (hopefully two years hence), a retirement-lite, if you will. Admittedly, I was a little lost at first. I missed the schedule of my workday and the need to get house chores done on the weekends. I continued to wake up and go to bed unusually early in both cases. With a little time though, I started sleeping later—rarely later than 7am though. And I stayed up later each night. I started seeing the am hours from the other side of the night. I adapted, unlike my father, who retired nearly a quarter century ago, who still rises at 5am, as if he’s still going to work each day. I spread my household chores through the week. I worked on my lawn and garden; they’ve never looked so good. I started the layoff period anxiously, but soon found myself growing ever more comfortable with quiet days that seemed to stretch languorously before me.
Which is not to say I wasn’t lonely. I most assuredly was. If I could give my pre-pandemic self one piece of advice, it would be find yourself a partner real fast. I had a female “friend” before self-isolation hit, but she all but disappeared completely as we retreated into our respective homes. A few old girlfriends from decades past turned up in my Facebook messenger (or did I turn up in theirs?*) I enjoyed virtually reconnecting with them. I really should tell their stories on here. They were both from Europe. One I met in real life and one I never did (though I have an open invitation to come visit), but they were both integral parts of my journey. A couple of recent girlfriends kept me company through texting as well. Every so often group messaging would crop up between my male friends usually lamenting the lack of sports on TV, which doesn’t really affect me much, as I never really cared much for professional sports. In the meantime, I took this blog back up. I wrote a few things for some other blogs as well. I was instantly reminded how much I enjoy taking virtual pen to virtual paper. I also was reminded I get a kick out of people reading and reacting to my work. Unfortunately, most of the audience I built up 2 years ago dwindled precariously when I went anonymous and de-linked from my dating app. People like to see the face behind the writing, even if its mine.
I found out my return-to-work date about a week before and my trepidation grew as each day passed. Some people call them the Sunday scaries, that anxious feeling one gets knowing the weekend is over. I just had 6 weeks of weekend. My Sunday scaries were enormous in scope. I had grown used to the time off. Retirement no longer seems foreboding to me. If the pandemic hasn’t ruined international travel forever, I am really looking forward to my future.
As it turned out, my return to work the Tuesday after Memorial Day was fairly painless. Of course, my internal alarm clock has yet to fully adjust. Texting women until 2am has quickly fallen off the daily schedule. The blog took a quick hit too, but I hope to continue posting regularly, if not as often as I had. I still have several multi-part stories to tell. For instance, there was this British woman I met on one of the online apps. Her name was Bette….
*I looked back and one of the women initiated contact and I initiated contact in the other. I’d also like to add neither was a surprise contact after decades. In both cases we are Facebook friends and we exchange greetings on the rare occasion.
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