When I wake up on Monday mornings, I mean to be young again. You know, start a diet, change my hair color to brazen blond, do exercises for my widening waist.
But then I get interested in the morning news on television or decide to take a drive to the nearby shore. I unfold my chair and sit where I can feel the foam kissing my toes. I close my eyes and listen to the water moving in and out along the beach. Sometimes, I doze. After all, I am retired.
In the afternoon, I stop at the library to see what’s new on the shelves, or I check out the daily paper, which doesn’t cost me anything. Sometimes I look at the want ads and think about the years of “important” telephone calls and letters that “had to get out that day” when I was working nine-to-five. Those things, so paramount at the time, I am incurious about now.
Next, I move on to the supermarket. There was a time, years ago, when this was a place of mourning for me. All my children had grown and gone. There was no longer a large family to cook for. I would pass the bins of large beef roasts, hams and turkeys and feel sad that those days were behind me. Now, I enjoy strolling up and down the aisles, taking my time, knowing that I’ll have no trouble carrying my purchases home in two small bags. I am particular about choosing healthy foods for myself, then, stop at the bakery counter for my reward. After all, I am retired.
After the groceries are put away, I take a walk in the park. The winding lanes are lined with pine trees so tall that, when I strain to see the top of them, I must shade my eyes from the glint of the sun that is setting on them. There is a pond and a sign that says, “Do Not Feed the Ducks,” but people do. Some ducks are gliding along the edge of the water; a mother, a father and three little ones, as if on the way to visit another family across the way.
Couples holding hands pass by; women with earphones jog past in rhythm to their music. Shirtless young men, breathless and fast, run ahead and disappear around a bend in the path. I walk a steady pace and anticipate the evening ahead of me. I start for home thinking of the book I am reading. It is like an old friend. I look forward to the visit, feel wonderful throughout, and sad when that time is over.
And there is television — which is not the bad boy some make it out to be. I choose my programs carefully; a biography, a silly sitcom, just for fun, a classic movie that I can enjoy the second time around. Then there is writing. I write about the past. I write about a situation that has me puzzled. I write poetry or a short story. The act of writing always leaves me balanced, clear and truer to myself.
When I turn the light out on my day I think about the young woman I used to be and promise myself that the next morning will be a new start. I mean to be young again but something always gets in the way.
After all, I am retired.
A. Helen Spataro,
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