February 9th, 2007

Interesting words

"Loneliness is not a longing for company, it is a longing for kind. And kind means people who can see you who you are, and that means they have enough intelligence and sensitivity and patience to do that. It also means they can accept you, because we don't see what we can't accept, we blot it out, we jam it hastily in one stereotypic box or another. We don't want to look at something that might shake up the mental order we've so carefully erected."
Marilyn French

Imagining a future that may or may not be, personally

Today the architects were at the school, and each department had a lengthy session to look at the plans for the new building. We are just a general classroom department, no special needs. We did get to see where our classrooms are likely to be and what they will contain, where the windows are, how many desks, the wall storage stuff, etc. It was interesting to see, and for the first time the building seems like a reality to me. I never before really thought of the building as an actual place. The real place is right where I have been every workday for about twenty years, or in memory the earlier campus where I worked for the early years. The third campus just was not real.

Now I have actually to imagine leaving, if I am going to stay working beyond next year. And I have to imagine driving to a whole new campus, many miles farther away, extending my commute significantly. And imagine emptying my room, a second home to thousands of students, and bringing the minimum to a new, fresh, untainted room up on the imaginary second or third floor.

So I am in a major imagination quandary. I can't really grasp retirement as a reality. I think my skills are as sharp as ever, and I have great relationships with the students. On the other hand, the departure from my current work home is a natural time to put an end to it. On the other hand, it would be interesting to spend a couple of years at the new and permanent campus and be one of the very few people to have worked at all three homes of the Salt Mine over the years. And there is my health, which right now seems fine, but men deteriorate pretty quickly during these years. And there is money, too, even if only the health benefits part of it. We will have to retrench majorly when we retire, in terms of spending.

And there is also just the truth of no longer being anything other than old, part of the graying population that clutters up the world of the useful workers. I joke about being old all the time (and I am from their points of view), but truthfully, I don't want not to be able to pretend that I am not old. And that first Social Security check will be my stamp of oldness, with no going back.

Hmm. This isn't going anywhere, but I can't avoid thinking of it forever.