Painting the Picture

The pulsing beep gently nudges my brain out of a weird dream involving asparagus and French wine. I laugh quietly as my right hand flops around the nightstand in search of the snooze button. After three cycles of snooze I finally roll out of bed, put on my sweats and cross the street to the apartment complex fitness room. It's 8:30, two and a half hours past my former regular workout time just three weeks ago.

Good morning, World. Welcome to Day Twenty-one of Bernie's retirement.

Yes, this is a dream inside a dream as my brain visualizes a scene from my future. It's an award-winning motion picture set at least five years from now.

A companion visualization from two months ago:  Whenever I visit New Orleans, my hometown, I try to spent time with my cousins. We're all within 10 years of each other in age and spent a lot of time together growing. I'm the instigator of the cousin reunions. All of these cousins had careers or long-term jobs and all have retired. All. My sister and I are the only family members of this generation who still work.  During these cousin reunions she and I are happy to hear about their retirement life. And we are jealous. Our parents were the most frugal, plan-for-the-future people on both sides of the family. Why are we still working?

My workout is a short but effective thirty minutes. I shower, then walk a half mile to my neighborhood Starbucks. Several "hey Bernie"s later I'm enjoying expresso and conversation with retiree friends. We talk neighborhood gossip, politics, medical ailments, music and the weather. A couple of us keep busy with part-time jobs as consultants or Uber drivers, but most mornings start with camaraderie and coffee. All of us enjoyed our working lives but all of us knew it was time to cut back and enjoy life.

This visual becomes clearer every week. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm pretty sure it isn't a train. When it comes to work/life balance, work still wins, but the more I paint this retirement picture the more focused it gets.

Ok, guys, I've got some errands to run. See you at happy hour?  I'll tell y'all about that crazy dream that involved asparagus and French wine.