Ladies and gentlemen! Mr. Plath has retired!
He has left the building. He is not going back into the building. No. Of that much we are certain. He is staying home. With me.
And therein lies the tentative nature of our relationship. After 25 years of marriage, will retirement,with its enforced togetherness, its mandatory glee, be the end of us?
Back in the day – last week, to be specific – we had a comfortable, if one-sided, routine: The alarm went off at 6 AM and the coffee pot beeped; we turned on the news and had a bowl of granola.
He got in the shower at 6:15, a warm and gentle human being. Then, as though the shower stall were some futuristic contraption designed for making Men in Suits, the disheveled and groggy guy who stepped in came out seven minutes later sleek, focused, and standing at the boardroom table – mentally anyway – a working man with his working face already working.
Hair drying, for him a 20 second operation, was sufficient to whisk all thoughts of life outside the corporate campus from his consciousness. He barely acknowledged me as I watched his transformation.
Only moments ago he had been in his dream world of duck blinds and hip waders, but now, as he buttoned himself down, his expression changed with his internal dialogue. I imagine it went something like this: “That’s right Joe; we have to trim the fat! If we want to increase our net end-of-the-year functional profitability equation matrix, something’s got to give!”
But what he’d say was, “Love ya, Honey! Home around seven!” And with a whoosh and swoop, I had the house to myself.
How I spend my days is not open for scrutiny just now. See, I could tell him whatever I wanted. Maybe I went to movie after movie and ate popcorn all day. Maybe I had a mani and a pedi and one of those face mask thingies. He was never the wiser.
So long as the house was clean and dinner on the table, what did he care? More accurately, how could he care after a 12 hour day of meetings wrapped at both ends with a glorious 40 minute commute?
At the end of those days, he was just glad to take off his shoes.
So he made his Victory Lap, going to farewell party after congratulatory luncheon. He played golf and smiled for the camera and got cards and cakes and slaps on the back and affectionate ribbings.
And when it came time to turn in his laptop and security badge, he had not a moment’s nostalgia.
And now he’s home and there are no more secrets. No more ethereal answers to, “How was your day, Honey?” He’s right here. He can see exactly how my day is.
Suffice it to say that, having retired four years ago myself, I have thoroughly relaxed out of my own time-served in the institutional life.
Oh, I get up and do things, but leaping out of my cozy Tempurpedic after it has molded to my body creating the best possible sleep experience, disturbing the cats and launching into activity is not the way it goes at 6-the-bleep-thirty, thank you very much.
I expected the worst – a watch-tapping version of my father, to-do list in hand and disapproving gleam in his eye.
But to my amazement, Mr. Plath does not wake up without the alarm. I can pull out my book and read for a good stretch until … OMG! Is he going to sleep all day?!
No. No he’s not. There he is! Mr. Sleepy Head. So sweet.
We have had five leisurely mornings with coffee and the Today Show. Granola in bed. Repeated reveling about this lovely new phase of life and the great big beautiful world around us.
So we reside now in what you might call the Honeymoon Stage of his retirement. Like newlyweds, we are happy! So very happy!
And they said it wouldn’t last!