I’d like to introduce myself; I’m Laurie, and I’m pleased to join the Working Stiffs as a contributor. I also would like to thank the Working Stiffs for welcoming me.
This is a metamorphosis of sorts . . . last year on this exact same Friday morning in February, I went to work and turned in my inventory -- complete with credentials, weapon, raid gear, handcuffs, vest and laptop. It was by far one of the oddest days I have ever experienced. After working at the same post of duty as a criminal investigator since the age of twenty-two, I would not return after I left at the end of the day.
Who knew then that one year later, I would be in the process of writing the first draft of a traditional mystery, and here with the Working Stiffs?
When I woke up that February morning a year ago, it wasn’t what I previously imagined my last day of work to feel like. I wasn’t giddy as I had imagined I would be -- doing cartwheels, jumping up and down, or hooting and hollering. No, instead I was strangely quiet. To say that the day was surreal is an understatement.
Over the years, I had seen other agents clean out their desks, turn in their gear and retire to the land of “sunshine and lollipops.” At least, I thought they did. Now one year later, and strange as it might sound, I don’t know if it has yet sunk in. I am retired? Really? No, that can’t be right, I think, as I shake my head. In fact, I still get excited for a brief moment at the thought of an upcoming legal holiday and a day off work . . . until I remind myself that I am retired and a legal holiday is now like any other day.
Perhaps it is because I didn’t give myself the time to just sit back and enjoy the “sunny and relaxing” days of retirement, which, by the way, is somewhat hard to do in March in northeastern Ohio. No, instead I immediately started writing lists and planning what to do next. I quickly tired of people asking me how I was spending my time after retirement: “Did I have a new job?” I felt uneasy that for the first time in my life, I was doing…nothing.
First off, I was too young (in my mind) to be retired. When contemplating retirement and weighing the pros and cons, I hadn’t considered this con. I didn’t know then that merely saying I was retired would somehow make me feel older. “Retirees” receive discounts on their cups of coffee and movie admissions and young people gently hold open their doors. Chronologically, I don’t qualify for any of those amenities. However, merely stating that I was a retiree made me feel as though I should.
To sum this all up (before I make myself feel any older), on this, my one-year retirement anniversary, it feels a little bit like a divorce. A year later, I’m still adjusting to the separation, but I’m looking forward to what lies ahead. I’m learning its okay to sometimes “just be,” and retirement doesn’t need to signify age. Instead it’s a wonderful opportunity to revisit childhood ambitions, previously not pursued.
I have always harbored a desire to write and since my retirement, that’s what I’ve been doing. However, since I haven’t had anything published, I feel a little awkward saying I’m a writer and when asked, I say I’m retired.
The next time someone asks me “what I do,” I would like to instead say -- I’m, you guessed it …writing.
What do you think? Can I say I’m a writer even though I’m new to writing?