The president and the board of directors took me out for a going-away dinner at a very good Chinese restaurant. The next day, my replacement began “learning the ropes” of the job I was leaving.
Some friends hauled away my bookcases. My home looked emptier and emptier every day. An aficionado of the “simplicity” movement, I had decided to condense 60 years of living into a total of five medium-sized suitcases (plus a laptop case). I left San Francisco for another kind of paradise in Costa Rica. Another phase of my life began. They (whoever “they” are) call it “retirement.”
Funny word – “retirement” – sounds so sedentary. I don’t know any “retired” folks who aren’t as active as they’ve always been, if not more so.
My friend Ed in San Diego, for example, seems more on the go now that he’s retired than he was when he worked all day. One day he’s at the homeless shelter, the next day at the soup kitchen, then there’s the youth group at his church. If seems as if one friend or another is needing his help in some way at all times. The man’s a saint – and he ain’t even Catholic!
I had planned to keep on the go in retirement as well. I expected to have more energy to do what I wanted to do, since it wasn’t being used up working at a job.
Guess what? That’s exactly what happened!
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.
– Bob Dylan, 1967; renewed 1995 Dwarf Music
The books and video tapes began to go. A few each day to friends.
Those that remained after being picked over went to the library – and it was awful! Like taking faithful Fido to the pound! I would so much rather have found someone who would take them home and love those books as much as I did.
I had to have a yard sale, I kept reminding myself. Then suddenly it was too late to have a yard sale. I was just going to have to give all that stuff away. Or abandon it where it lay. Costa Rica would not wait any longer for me to arrive.
Nobody ever said it would be easy, this getting rid of most of my earthly possessions and rearranging my life in another country. I had some practice at it, however. Two years before, I had moved from San Diego to Santa Cruz – two burgs quite a distance apart culture-wise.
Now I was doing it again – moving between two vastly different burgs – from Santa Cruz de California to Heredia de Costa Rica, which is also a university town. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so different. Wanna bet?
It didn’t make much sense for me to move a lot of possessions to Costa Rica. I want to travel lightly for awhile, to simplify my life. I would not be backpacking it, but I actually enjoy living within a budget. I travel that way, too. One gets good at it with a little practice. With a lot of practice, one gets very good indeed.
This time, though, it wasn’t a visit. I was moving, not visiting.
But I was not retiring to Costa Rica – exactly. I was being retired to Costa Rica. Almost every year for more than a decade I had traveled all about the country. When I returned to California at the end of my last holiday in Costa Rica, I mentally didn’t go back.
I did not enjoyed that feeling of being in two places at the same time.
I had planned my retirement. I was old enough. It would be an adventure. It was time.
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