Boy...have things changed since I wrote the last post before "Negri." Jeez... It's been a long time since I felt like writing until I did the post for Negri's passing. A huge fallow period with no desire to write or post whatsoever. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
I did find work, unexpectedly, at a Home Goods store not far from where I was living. There was a "hiring" sign in the window and I went in and applied. They took a few weeks to call, but hired me as a part-time, temporary, seasonal Christmas cashier and floor associate at the end of 2013. I was just happy to have a job.
I worked as a cashier and then was promoted to being a supervisor over the cashiers at the front end, which I initially thought was a good thing, but soon realized wasn't at all what I wanted. It was too many hours of work each week when what I really wanted was a part-time job. And, it was too much stress and too much responsibility for someone who didn't want to "move up the ladder" and become a manager. So, I went back to being a regular cashier and also working a couple of days in the cash office, which was perfect. Now, I only work in the cash office and don't cashier at all anymore, and I really like it. I balance the cash drawers, do the bank deposits, get to work in the quiet of a small office away from the sales floor, don't have to lift heavy furniture, don't have to be on my feet all the time, and don't have to deal with customers. It's only a few hours on the days I work. I go in early in the morning and am off before lunch. Ahhh...
Working in the cash office is a job that I didn't realize existed. I wouldn't have known to apply for it. And, I wouldn't have thought I was qualified for it, even if I had known it existed. But, by taking the available job that was offered to me, the better job opened up after time. I also had to get over my old pattern of wanting to do more and take on more responsibility, by realizing I didn't want to be a supervisor, before working in the cash office showed its real appeal. But, the journey got me where I needed to be.
I downsized from the first apartment I got when I moved back to San Diego, which was a two-bedroom, into a studio apartment. Before I retired, I needed a second bedroom to use as an office and a place to keep all my work supplies and paraphernalia. After I retired, it took me a while to realize I didn't need an office anymore, a desk and a small file cabinet were enough. I also started to look around me and want less stuff. All my stuff was starting to feel suffocating. So, I sold everything I could, gave away the rest, threw away what was left, and moved into the smallest space in which I've ever lived. And, I loved it.
My studio apartment was in a charming old building that was over a hundred years old and just a couple of blocks from Balboa Park close to downtown San Diego. My foldout secretary desk was built into the wall next to the small built-in bookcase. My bed pulled out like a big drawer under the desk and bookcase. And, my small, but "walk-in" closet was above where the bed pulled out. The kitchen was small but complete, and the bathroom was bigger than the one I'd had in my two-bedroom apartment. There was a rooftop deck that looked out over San Diego Bay. There was a laundry facility for the building. They took my three cats. I had to park on the street, but it was never really a problem. I had everything I needed.
While living in the studio apartment, my beloved cat, Buddy, got very sick and made his transition, which was a very difficult passage for me. I only got to be Buddy's companion and caretaker for the last four years of his life, but he was a very special being, and took over a large part of my heart.
Winter in the studio apartment proved to be very uncomfortable when it became clear that no heat was ever going to reach it from the boiler system in the basement. And, no amount of complaining about the lack of heat brought any improvement over a period of months. So, not long after Buddy passed, I was given permission to move prior to the end of my lease.
I'm now living in a small one-bedroom apartment. I'm very happy here and have more amenities than I ever thought I'd be able to afford in an apartment. I have a garage, which, after parking on the street, is a huge luxury. I have a fireplace, which isn't something I would have told you I wanted, but is something that I love having. I have a bedroom. Amazing. It's nice to have a bedroom again after the pull-out bed. I have my own washer and dryer! Which, after going up and down three flights of stairs to a coin-operated and shared facility, is something I'm on-my-knees grateful for. I have a garbage disposal, which might sound basic, but which I greatly missed not having. And, I have a private outdoor balcony, which my landlord was generous enough to screen in for me so that the cats could safely go out there and not jump off. We've been very comfortable here.
The next big change came when Negri, my oldest female cat, whose health had been in serious decline since just before Buddy passed, made her transition. She'd been with me for fifteen years and was the dearest, sweetest cat. Losing her is a huge adjustment. And, losing her and Buddy both within the space of a year, has taken a large emotional toll. With the multiple moves, the turmoil and stress of work, and the death of two dearly loved animal companions, I'm left feeling a bit fractured.
Since I'd retired a few years ago, through all the changes since then, many voids have been opened in my life, and none of them have been closed or filled. All the losses and changes came close enough on top of each other to leave me feeling overwhelmed and lost. The effects of everything that's happened have been larger than I realized they would be, and have resulted in my feeling empty and without purpose. Nothing has given me any real energy for life or a feeling of forward movement until I made the decision to walk The Camino.
A friend recommended a book to me by Sonia Choquette, called "Walking Home." It was about her experience of walking The Camino, and I was only into the beginning chapters of it when I realized that walking The Camino was the next thing I was being called to do. As Life would have it, I experienced some synchronous events after making the decision to walk it that confirmed that it was indeed the door that had opened for me: A friend of mine will be starting the walk with me; and, my current landlord has walked it three times. So, in September and October, I'll be in Europe walking The Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in Southern France, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, and across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.
For a couch potato like myself, to put on a backpack and walk such a pilgrimage as The Camino, which is 500 miles, would not have been something I would have thought I'd do, but what do I know? So, this year, I'll spend my 65th birthday in Spain while walking The Camino. It's something I'm very excited about doing. The prospect of doing it is giving me energy and something to look forward to. And, I finally feel like my life is finding its footing again--pun intended.
I've got everything arranged for The Camino and have what I need to do it. I've read as many books on it, and watched as many videos, as I'm going to; so, all that's left is to do it. In the meantime, I enjoy the time I have with my one remaining beloved cat, Sophie. We've grown much closer now that it's just the two of us. And, I go to work and do what I do, which is a lot of nothing. But, no matter what, knowing that The Camino is coming, continues to inspire me.
Some of you know what I've written here and some of you don't. But, I felt a need to write a post to fill in the big void of not having posted for so long. And, now I've done that. I hope to post more often, but I never know when the words will start to form themselves in my mind and ask to be recorded. When they do, they will appear here.
Deep thanks to all my friends who've been there to support me through all the changes the last few years have brought. I'm grateful to all of you more than you know. Thanks as well to all of you who read what I so humbly put forth in these posts. Thanks to my mother for making me learn how to type when I was very young and had no interest in it, and for which I'm grateful every day. And, thanks for my ability to write and process the events of my life through words. Writing is the thing that ultimately gives me purpose, inspires me, and makes me feel useful and of service. Writing is the thing that brings me peace, and a deep and quiet joy. And, writing is the thing that brings me into a state of pure, on-my-knees gratitude, which is where I am right now. Thank you...in all the ways one can say thank you.