Survived the First Two Weeks of Retirement

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Kayaking from our hotel room in Koh Samui

Eric has been retired for 177,120 minutes. That’s exactly 14 days or the equivalence of a typical two week vacation. We’ve been together for all of those minutes minus the 124 minutes yesterday when he “needed a nap”, and I “needed to see another temple and smiling Buddah.” I think what we really needed was a little space..a break from each other. Don’t get me wrong. Being together 24-7 has been good. We are learning to share space, compromise on priorities, be flexible with time, and respect each other’s need or lack of need for organization. Learning to be together more of the day would happen whether we were cycling or not. The difference is that at home Eric can banish to the garage and I can hide in the sewing room.

The realities of our personalty differences are magnified with the close quarters and lack of a definitive schedule. This lack of a schedule is hard for me. I like lists, punctuality, and goals. Eric, on the other hand, is in love with the lack of structure. He thrives in flexibility, fluidity, and freedom. We’re both learning to compromise. Luckily, we spent day 14 in Koh Samui, an idyllic island paradise with inexpensive wine, whiskey, and Italian food which is conducive to intimate conversations with which to  communicate our differences. Eric is in the “honeymoon” stage of retirement (seriously…I read on ask.com that there are 10 stages of retirement). I, however, have skipped right past the optimism and joy and focused too much togetherness and not enough structure.

Unfortunately, current studies are not supporting my pessimism. The October 14, 2014, Wall Street Journal Article called “The Case for Quitting Your Job – Even if You Love it, Walking Away Might Leave You Healthier and Happier” by Anne Tergesen supports and encourages Eric’s decision. This article presents some compelling evidence by early retirees who examine both external and internal reasons for retirement. Eric, I’m proud to say, had made his decision thoughtfully and methodically. He especially wanted to retire while his health permitted the physical exertion of a cycling tour such as this. Even though I am enjoying the cycling, the people, the new experiences and the food, I miss the daily energy of students and teaching. Of course, as Eric reminds me, I’m looking at the past through rose-colored glasses and remembering only the good.

Moving from full-time work to full-time cycling, according to Tergesen is a logical transition. For example, we starting “lay{ing} the groundwork for a move without really knowing {we} were doing it” by buying bicycles in Malaysia, becoming Warmshowers hosts, and taking small weekend tours. We’ve traded the 60 hour work weeks for 48-60 hour bike weeks. In addition to riding between 45 and 100 miles per day, a good portion of our free time is spent finding food, housing, and planning upcoming routes. In other words, until we get a little more organized and practiced, cycling touring is like a 12 hour per day job. Especially when you add in laundry…

The best part of this retirement flexibly is that it allowed us to stay an extra day in Samui which gave us extra time for an extra long four hour dinner – wine, three courses, dessert and whiskey.

The road may not always be smooth, but having the time to talk and think and plan, can make this retirement thing pretty nice.