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There’s a signpost up ahead…

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: I originally wrote this five years ago. It’s horrifying that I haven’t really progressed much beyond where I was then. I keep thinking I’ll see Rod Serling in my rear view mirror.

You know that feeling of getting lost while driving? You know, you are driving along and make a turn or two or three, things start to look a bit unfamiliar but you keep driving because that little voice in your head keeps telling you that you’re doing fine and you’re going in the right direction. Suddenly, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you are lost. Hopelessly lost. You pull over and take stock: you are miles from your destination and have absolutely no flipping idea of a.) how you got there; and b.) how you’ll get to where you want to go.

That’s my life.

One day I was rolling along in life, things going pretty well, every task directed at helping provide happy and successful lives for my children, and at paying my bills and doing my best to prepare for and maybe, just maybe, to enjoy the autumn of my life. The next day, I was divorced, in foreclosure, car repossessed, living paycheck to paycheck despite working 60-hour weeks in a professional job, and buried under a pile of debt the amount of which is too obscene to speak out loud.

I tried moving out-of-state to allow me and my kids to recover. It worked, for the most part. The kids are thriving. I am grateful for that. I went back to school 30 years after my undergraduate studies and in 19 months, earned a master’s degree. I am proud of that. Then, after spending four years living 2,000 miles away from my extended family, friends and everything familiar to me, I moved back home. It wasn’t alone – it was with the promise of a new partner and with him a new life, new adventures, a new home, and even a half of a plan for a happy retirement.

Seven years later, here I am, all of those promises unfulfilled,  the only adventure being that I am still trying to live paycheck to paycheck. The added wrinkle (pun intended) is that now, at nearly 62, I’ve been fired because of my age and I am working as an office manager – something that is not in my wheelhouse. I need to work. I need to have something that will sustain me, pay some of the bills, keep my head above water and maybe, if at all possible, give me some small measure of satisfaction. To do this, I must compete with professionals who are 25 years or more younger than I am. There’s nowhere to hide the crow’s-feet, the double chin or the brown age spots on my hands, never mind the 39 years of work experience that somehow tends to make me a little jaded and a lot crabby. Those whippersnappers have a way of making you feel as if you should have just gone out with the dinosaurs. Besides, I can’t even get a job interview these days. And never mind thinking about meeting someone new to grow old(er) with.

It doesn’t help to know that many friends and family my age are already retired, and hopefully, worrying less and waking up looking forward to each day instead of still having to think about how to pay the bills. Retirement? Yeah. I am thinking that there will only be six people at my retirement party: three on each side of the casket.

So, I am still at the side of the road that is my life wondering out loud, “Where the hell am I? How did I get here? How in God’s name do I get home?” The only response is a tinny GPS-style voice in my head repeating, “Recalculating…”

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