Saturday, June 27, 2015

A last commute

Retirement.

That word has been daunting for the last twenty four years. “You have to start paying yourself”. Wise words from my accountant. That’s how it showed up on my radar. A tiny, faint, scary blip in what seemed back then like a distant, dim, uncertain future.

I couldn’t afford to save much. “We’ll retire to a trailer park…” I thought, without any idea how Susan and I might actually avoid that as our eventual fate.

I was a young partner in a law firm. Three kids, a mortgage, a lawn to mow in the burbs, and no pension plan.

Friday was my last commute. I had choices. I opted for the Honda Shadow - Black Betty to Sonja, Thunderbird to me -  though I don’t name my rides, really, I don’t. Not exactly a ScootCommute. The only constant is change.

It turns out retirement will be fine. I plan to earn some money. Traveling money. That’s what it will be.

For the next little while Susan and I will coast, enjoy summer, as we begin the graceful descent to a retirement lifestyle in Toronto. Gradually less altitude, some flaps, ease up on the throttle, wheels down, and a three point landing in a new town, new home.

We’re clearing the table, wiping the slate. Out with the old, in with the new. We’re exchanging our plodding caterpillars for butterflies.

Thursday’s commute was nostalgic. I took the Vespa along the route of my first two-wheeled commute. That was six years ago. Man I love that Vespa. Smooth as silk with power to spare. Beauty, and a beast.

That morning the sun played with the lake shore route, dappling the winding road with warm patterns of bright light and cool shade. Casting glittery flashing diamonds here and there on the lake. I rolled into the underground garage at 10:30. Not a care in the world. I left the office at five-ish, came home the same way, savouring the slow path home.

Friday, June 26, 2015.

The last day of work. A last commute.

My first day of work was in the spring of 1980, immediately following my last Bar exam. Thirty-five years. Three employers. Fourteen offices. 36, 19, 44, 17, 75, 19, 37, 40, 5, 6, 5, and 19 are the floors I worked on. All in office towers, all downtown, most in Montreal, a few in Toronto. Never a dull moment. Quite a lot of high drama. Serious stuff. Many hours spent in knee-length black robes, a handful of all-nighters. A life spent learning, crafting, honing, pitching, deflecting, defending, writing, speaking, losing, but most often winning, arguments. A lawyer’s lot.

In keeping with the vibe, Thunderbird was the only logical choice for my last commute. Blues playing in my helmet, cruising on the 20, rockin’ my way downtown on 750 burly cc’s of raucous thundering adrenaline-fueled fun. With a devil-may-care attitude, greeted  by waves from guys on badass cruisers (my new ‘brothers’) many of whom I would almost certainly steer clear of on the sidewalk while avoiding eye contact, I headed straight for the office.

The remaining work was dispatched in a workman-like way. Hands were shaken, backs were slapped, there were heartfelt hugs and kisses, smiles were beamed, memories relived, personal contact information exchanged. In the process, my co-workers had hidden my helmet while I was roaming the building to ensure I couldn’t leave without final adieus to those closest to me. It worked.

I abandoned my credit card, put my access card on a colleague’s desk, and walked out the door in the company of one of the kindest, smartest, and most charming lawyers it has been my pleasure to work with. He knows it. I believe in telling it like it is.

No regrets, happy, confident, released. I think those I left behind felt the brunt of the departure. I had to fight and struggle to leave on my own terms. Like a child leaving the womb, in a way. I was striking out, breathing fresh air, free to roam, to be myself, care free, no work obligations.

I won.

20 comments:

  1. Congratulations David ...Here's to a bright new beginning for you and Susan. Why T.O.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karen.

      To answer your question, our eldest son Jonathan is getting married this summer. If we aren't in Toronto when grand kids make an appearance, Susan will high tail it there and I'll be stuck here.

      That, and we have more family in Toronto (2/3 kids, 2/3 sisters, as well as cousins) than here in Montreal. It's overdue really.

      Delete
  2. Dave,
    Welcome to my world. We have been saving a scooter spot for you. We will even let you lead.
    Ken

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    Replies
    1. One day Ken, I will take you up on that.

      Delete
  3. Congrats on the retirement. I'm some years behind you yet, but still spend time reflecting.

    Enjoy...and keep blogging!

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  4. Congratulations! Now you'll wonder how you ever got everything else done like work with all the stuff that will fill your time, but . . . you'll be smiling! See you in August. Jim

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  5. Nicely written end to the commute, but not Scoot Commute, I hope. Keep writing and I will continue to follow,

    We are similar in many ways. I graduated from UF Architecture school in 1979 and began working immediately, Four months as a summer intern for the Midwest Region of the National Park Service in Omaha, then joined my father's practice for this long run. I hope to join you in retirement soon.

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    Replies
    1. Bill, so far so good. Not missing the suit and tie.

      Delete
  6. Congrats, David. Can't wait to see what you will be up to next. I take a wild guess here and say, your new life will start with a huge honey-do list ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Good guess.

      I'm told I have to make four piles: 1) stuff to keep, 2) stuff to chuck out, 3) stuff to give away, and 4) stuff to sell.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Dar!

      I managed to miss your comment, sorry about that.

      Delete
  8. Enjoy it mate ,
    Retirement will keep a guy like you busy.
    your stuff,stuff,stuff,stuff comment above......why do we bother with so much stuff?

    regards
    Len

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    Replies
    1. You're so right Len. I'm hoping for a lighter footprint stuff-wise. Thanks for the kind words.

      Delete
  9. Yes, you won. Glad you had a nice last commute and a really fine farewell. So, you're coming my way to live? You've made it to my place for coffee before, so I hope you will come again. I hope you enjoy your retirement.

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    Replies
    1. Ed, yes heading your way.

      We need to sell before even looking in the GTA. The real estate market is brutal.

      I get the feeling we'll be sharing coffee, and more, in the not-too-distant future.

      Delete
  10. Congrats Mr. D! I'm sure there are kickass rides ahead!
    Love shell

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    Replies
    1. It's so cool you stopped by and left a comment Shel! I'm wishing us luck. Gonna buy a lottery ticket. :)

      Cross your fingers.

      Delete

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