350 Days

I am planning on retiring. And this is my diary to countdown the days.

350 days until.

I should be happy, but I am feeling very overwhelmed. It’s not because I’m a short timer that I’m unmotivated. I want to finish strong. I am overwhelmed both by the pressure to achieve certain things before I leave work, but also, and maybe more so, by personal pressures.

I struck a deal at work that I would take all of my vacation this year. There’s vacation still that built up during the non-vacation taking days of Covid that add to my current year’s allotment.

Making a point of taking all of this time was to make this last year more relaxed, but it has the opposite effect. Taking time off makes me stress more about the things that I need to do, because I have less time to do them. And traveling for these vacation days, as opposed to taking the time off around the house, also puts off personal to dos, and I have many.

And I hate my house. I hate the clutter. I want to do something about that, but can I? I have so many things I want to do. Where will I start?

Our dog died recently. She didn’t exactly die on her own. She got close. But anyway, now we can replace couches and rugs and such, things we were waiting to do because in her later months, maybe more like her later year, she peed in the house a lot.

But replacing furniture isn’t as easy as it sounds. It, too, is work. It, too, is something I want to do right. What do we want? What do I want? I can guarantee you that what I want, when I figure out what it is, because in terms of interior design, I have no imagination, will be different from what my wife wants. I want simplicity. I need simplicity.

Why should I care? It is shelter. And I’m grateful to have it. A roof over my head. Somewhere to sleep. But if that’s all it is, I want to buy the cheapest couch there is. If I’m going to hate it, if all it is, is shelter, as if that’s a small thing, then I don’t want to spend money on it. If I spend money, I want to love it. Let’s imagine getting rid of everything and starting from scratch. What would that look like? I would like to do that, because I hate everything. Our entertainment cabinet is dated. Our living room seems smaller than it could. I don’t like the colors. I hate the fact that the kitchen is open to the living room, but I don’t suppose we can change the way the house is built. I hate the bookshelves that narrow our walkway behind the couch we want to replace. Do we need all of those books? I hate the kitchen cabinets and their dated dark wood. I hate knick knacks and picture frames.

I am depressed and as I contemplate the retirement I always wanted, the time to spend on the jobs I always wanted to do, I think a lot about how many years I have been depressed, and I wonder if I know how to do it differently. It’s almost as long as I can remember. I hated school. Maybe not 9th grade, my last year before high school, but the rest. I saw a little musical slideshow put together to celebrate my high school, a branch of the FAME school in NYC, The High School of Music and Art. A performing arts school.  That should have been great, right? Everyone’s dream. It pains me to watch it, the way it also pains me to think about or visit Bard where I spent 2 ½ years in college before I couldn’t take it anymore and transferred to Hunter, which I do look back on fondly, but it’s also where I became an accountant. The memories pain me because I was always depressed, and depression always held me back. I think about the wasted potential.

I don’t look back and say, those were good times. I look back and say I missed an opportunity to have the good times that other people had. I have always struggled to appreciate whatever was going on in my life when it was happening. And on the verge of having what I’ve always pined for, time, I’m mad that I spent so many years in a career I never wanted. Why did I do that?

But things are different, or soon will be. In 350 days, I will be free.

But I don’t know. There’s so much to do. So much expected of me too, besides what I want for myself. Will I get to live my life?  Will I finally be happy? It’s a little hard to believe in it.


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