And when one of those spanking new, schmick, over 55 apartments goes up in our neighbourhood, the old man and I start frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs.
We’ve been saving for our retirement our whole life. While all our mates were splashing their cash on fabulous Caribbean holidays, sky-high mortgages and recreational drugs, we were surreptitiously saving. Smugly. But with the Greek-effect on property, there’s an air of uncertainty that our precious nest egg may not be Ostrich-sized after all, and the ‘timeless elegance, sandstone pillars, handrails on every wall and panic button in every toilet’, might be just out of reach.
Maybe retirement is over-rated after all, or a myth as perpetrated by the doom-and-gloom tabloids.
Having retirement as our ‘life goal’ is no doubt considered foolish by some. But after years of soul searching, tinkering with sea and career changes in search of that balance between ‘quality’ of life and ‘standard of living’, we’ve arrived at the same nirvana. To ‘work our bollocks off and retire early’.
It has been the source of Friday night banter/ferocious debate, since we first had kids and our social life ended. ‘Friday night potential’ should be bottled and sold.
Some Fridays we’re touring Australia in an old graffitied combi van, the next we’re circumnavigating the world via catamaran. We’ve been philanthropists in Africa and hedonists in New York, but the ideal has remained the same.
The dream is to rediscover who we were, without life’s interruptions. No clocks, no routine, no conventions, no-one to answer to. Once upon a time, the fire in our bellies burned with ambition; it now burns with freedom’s potential.
But is retirement over-rated? For no matter how you spin it, no matter how secure the gated community looks, or how green the grass, you’re still fundamentally too old to enjoy all the things you’ve dreamed about for the last forty years. Old bodies, addled brains and the memory skills of an ADHD kid, may simply not be synonymous with an ‘active’ wish list.
And then there’s the boredom issue.
The old man refuses to acknowledge boredom as an ‘issue’ in his /our retirement. I’m not certain our common bond of kids and Penfolds is enough to sustain us?
Like Tiger, the old man is aspiring to play a lot of golf in his retirement too.
So how will I fill my days out in the pasture while he’s on the course? What happens when the initial jubilation of being permanently on holiday begins to wane?
Routine can’t be the answer; that would be anathema to the newbie retiree, who’s spent forty odd years fantasizing about breaking down the walls?
Once we’ve booted the progeny out of the nest, will we really be expected to change the habits of a marriage and do things together, like we used to before ‘effort’ became a dirty word?
His daily schedule will no doubt change. To be considered a serious golfing twat, he will need to sink thirty-six balls a day, wear very silly long socks and develop a taste for Cuban cigars. I can picture him now, dribbling on the orthopaedic mattress between rounds, in our manicured ivory tower.
He can be Tiger’s bitch.
But if we do have to cut our cloth accordingly, and if ‘the egg’ turns out to be disappointingly quail-sized, how will I fuel my mojo if I don’t have the financial means to bitch with the girls over skim caps and Margaritas?
A vocal embargo will be enforced, once his new best friends are Ted the green keeper and his nine iron. And as my brain could atrophy, if it’s under-utilised, I will need access to some intellectual input beyond Fashion Police, OK Magazine and Masterchef.
We’ll need a routine, a plan, new parameters. We’ll need to learn how to compromise. There are only so many times the kitchen cupboards can be reorganised, the oak handrails polished. Stuck in the tower, there won’t be ‘days off’ to look forward to, jobs to moan about and impossible bosses to badmouth. They’ll be little social interaction beyond the antique white walls and Facebook.
Separate bedrooms are non-negotiable because we’ll need our space; separate hobbies and lives have worked so far. An escape plan could be as important as the retirement plan.
He owes me something. Please don’t let him let me get to the stage of forgetting to pluck my eyebrows, or thinking that elasticated-waisted trousers, blue hair, matching sun hats or socks with sandals look really cool. Please don’t let him think that Viagra is the answer. Flat shoes are already becoming more than a passing fascination. The slope is slippery.
The only thing we’re likely to come together on is our secret fear; the fear of the kids coming back.
I’ll unexpectedly catch his eye one day and remember that handsome and shy sixteen-year-old boy who somehow found the courage to invite me out for coffee all those years ago. And I’ll be glad we made it to retirement, togevver. Even if we do end up ‘slumming it’.