I often wonder what the next phase of my life will look like. I'm familiar with childhood, teen years/high school, college-into-young-adulthood, marriage, and divorce-hood. Through most of these phases, I worked, worked hard, worked multiple jobs simultaneously, and was loyal to my employers. Retirement looms in front of me now as the next big phase, but it is a ways away (a decade) and I'll have to pay off some debt (I'm looking at you, student loan!) before I get there. What do I want retirement to look like? The following fanciful constellation of jobs has been compiled from positions I've actually seen advertised this spring.
I'll be living at the New Jersey shore, Cape May specifically. That's a given, because that is where my heart is and that is where I feel most at home. The Cape May Light is my icon for this part of the universe, and recently I saw that Cape May MAC, the organization that administers the property, was advertising for Lighthouse Keepers. A dream of mine! These keepers would not have to tend to the light to keep mariners safe because that is automated. These contemporary keepers would not have to lug heavy barrels of oil up the circular wrought iron steps, either. (Have you seen the 2019 movie, The Lighthouse? It wouldn't be like that, I don't think.) These new lighthouse keepers mainly corral the many visitors and tell stories and facts to keep them occupied. One of the previous keepers offered short, illustrated lectures in the Nature Center on weekends. I could do all of this and then go for a two-mile walk in my beloved Cape May Point State Park afterwards. I don't think there's a uniform, but I seem to recall a navy blue polo shirt with the keeper's name and "Lighthouse Keeper" embroidered underneath. I would also want an authentic, retro-looking lighthouse keeper hat.
Dark Star Pirate Cruise ship. This job would require captaining a small motorized vessel, shooting a powerful but harmless water cannon in the general direction of the tourists, and creating a colorful (and humorous) lady-pirate-villain costume. A pirate hat would be required. From my landlubber desk where I currently write, non of these job requirements seem prohibitive, but in rare moments of introspection I suspect I might feel a twinge of imposter syndrome. I'll snap out of it. My name would be either Lighthouse Lil (combining my first two job personas), or Maritime Margie (to preserve my 'MM' initials). I imagine that on my days of portraying the villain, I would fly big, bright, black-lace-trimmed, fuschia bloomers from the mast instead of, or in addition to, the Lighthouse Lil flag and the skull and crossbones. I will be refreshing my pirate talk fluency.
|The Robert Shackleton Theater|
Cape May Stage. (I've seen lots of their plays in their little church-turned theater.) They really are, as I write, looking for a Costumer. The job description included other required skills including working with the public and lifting fifty pounds. I can lift fifty pounds, but do I have to then carry it? I can sew. I've made costumes, mostly Halloween and Colonial. Once, whe I took a career aptitude test along with my students, my result was Costumer for Opera. That result seemed outrageously specific, but it has launched me into many a daydream. Have I missed my calling? There is still time.
I will need to generate income during my retirement, and I haven't yet crunched the numbers to see if this trio of gigs will sustain me. I imagine they won't if I want to still buy books and travel. I will have to supplement this income with royalties from my award-winning, best-selling author career which is about to take off with the publication of my collection of grown-up travel essays, Nerd Traveler (published by Read Furiously, July 2021).
|July 6 from Read Furiously!!!|
I've been waiting a long time to bust out of the hum-drum, the quotidienne, the quietly anonymous. In retirement, I'll have the opportunity to be a character...or four.
A To-Do List has been created: