Sometimes, when I'm short on ideas or saving a post for later, I ask Kyle for blog topic suggestions.
Over surprisingly subpar Chinese food for lunch today, he and I started talking about retirement. He'd just met with a financial planner to talk about rolling over his account from his last job, so we were having the dollars and cents discussions, but we won't get into that here because, well, snooze. I only ever talk about exciting things, as you know.
So he suggested I write about retirement, and that sounded like fun. I'm practically 85 years old already anyway! Except, I don't really know much about the actual process of retiring. So I thought, instead of retirement, why don't I just write about not working? Not necessarily the same thing. And that sounded like even more fun, and so I spent the remainder of my lunch break coming up with these thoughts...
And I somehow ended up with this. And if you don't know what this is below, you need to reevaluate your life.
Last night, just as we arrived home from work, I had a stretch of ten minutes or so where everything was annoying me. The wind was gusting, and my hair was blowing everywhere. I was carrying too many things from the car. Our backyard was a horrific mudpit (the much more prosaic side of my beloved "melty winter day").
I took Bailey to the side yard on a leash to do her biznass, but in her teeny dog brain, leash=walk, and walk=unconfined joy. She was bounding everywhere and turning in happy circles and basically going berserk. Storm clouds were rolling in, and I just wanted her to GO ALREADY, but every time I'd speak sternly to her, she'd sit in the muddy grass and gaze up at me with huge sad eyes, as if to say "What am I doing wrong, why are you so mean to me?"
Finally, Kyle told me -- lovingly, of course -- to take a major chill pill. To go put on sweatpants. To not worry about dinner (I didn't, and so we ate sweet potato fries, as well as toasted bagel thins topped with roasted garlic -- and they were delicious).
But what really made my world a happy, cheerful place again was a nice little visit with Anne Shirley Blythe. Okay, okay, we invited two glasses of wine to join us as well.
Do you know about Anne? I first met her in seventh grade, when I watched the Anne of Green Gables PBS special. Immediately afterward, I needed to read the books -- alllllll of them. And read them I did -- as a new kid in middle school, mind you. I read them walking around downtown Cleveland with my family, and upstairs in our rented condo while we were waiting to buy a new house, and on the bus ride to school. Clearly, I was super popular.
In Anne, I found my literary kindred spirit (and I think I've harped on about this before, so I'll try to keep it to a minimum now). Anne is sensitive and optimistic and a touch dramatic and even hates math, just like me. Turns out, in certain lights my hair has a reddish cast, and my closest loved ones have also had the pleasure of meeting my mostly-kept-under-wraps temper (hence the sad dog and alarmed husband).
I love the entire Anne series, but one of my favorites is Anne's House of Dreams (hence the annoying references to the Stevenson household as such, the perfect image of which is marred by occasional glimpses into my laziness and bad moods). Spoiler alert: don't read further if you haven't already enjoyed the books. Go buy them, now. Here, seriously, do it.
Anne and Gilbert are finally married, and they go off to make their happy home in a seaside town. Gilbert is a young doctor just taking over his family practice, and Anne is a wife... and that's basically her job. She's done with teaching now that she's married, and instead she spends her days gardening and decorating her home and cooking and walking through the village and visiting with the other ladies and hoping to have babies.
Dude, sign me up.
I don't exactly have a green thumb, so the gardening would take some effort, but I would be all about touching up our house and baking bread and taking Bailey for long walks and visiting. Taking care of kids is one thing, and sometimes it doesn't sound all that fun, but caring for my home and my dog, handling our "correspondence" and grocery shopping, and just reading and enjoying life at a leisurely pace... yinz, that there is the life I was born to lead.
I like my job, but if I won the lottery, do you think I'd be commuting, sitting in a cubicle, stressing about press releases and media coverage? Are you crazy?
To touch on something only slightly less likely than my chances of winning the lottery... if I were magically transported back to early twentieth-century Canada, do you think I'd be sitting around wishing I could go to work? Missing work? Um, no. I would miss the right to vote and my sweatpants and possibly this blog and the internet, but I would be pleased as punch to play the part of young, unoccupied wife.
I only hope I get to bring Kyle and Bailey back there with me, and then Kyle will finally wear this hat, because it will actually be in style...
It's a little embarrassing to say out loud, because, um, does that make me a feminist failure? The fact that, given the choice, I would rather make it my "job" to maintain a beautiful house and make good food and get lots of fresh air and probably sew clothes for the poor (I can't sew, but I would learn, since I'm all on board with this Victorian housewife idea).
Look, I know there would be super boring days now and then. And the wind would still blow my hair all over the place, and I'd still have to occasionally carry way too many things from our car into the house, and Bailey might even sit in mud and refuse to go potty on command.
But we spend so, so, so many hours at work, or on our smartphones checking in with work, or up at night worrying about work. Wouldn't it be lovely if sprucing up our houses and spending time with our pets and visiting with our neighbors and friends were as important to the rest of the modern world as work? Wouldn't it be nice to live a life like Anne's (I realize her life is fiction, yinz, I'm just thinking out loud here).
Sometimes I like to imagine a simpler time, especially one in which the men wore such dashing caps. And of course, when my hairdo of choice was actually in style...
Would you like the unoccupied life?