Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Retirement parties

I’ve never been much for special occasions and my husband is even worse. His aversion to celebrations has pushed me even further in that direction. We don’t even celebrate our wedding anniversary.

So now there is the retirement party conundrum. I’m uncomfortable with occasions like this. When the wonderful people I’ve worked with in the Women’s Studies program suggested a retirement party for me, I countered with "how about a passing the torch event?”

I was much more comfortable with this and thought it would be better for the program. The new Women’s Studies coordinator would have a chance to share her vision and hear colleagues' ideas for future program development.

So with this shift in focus, I started looking forward to the party and really enjoyed it. Many of the people I like best at the college were there and I am so happy there is a wonderful person to take over the program I built—-my little legacy. There’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into building something and then have it fall apart when you move on.

The College wide retirement party on April 15 won’t be so much fun. It won’t be a small group of people I really like and respect. One of the really good things about retirement is that there are some people I will never see again. (When you work in a place for a long time, you can develop deep friendships and deep animosities.)

My husband is retiring at the same time; we were an office romance 30 years ago. He is not the kind of person who holds grudges and doesn’t mind chit-chatting with old adversaries. I sometimes see him talking amiably with the worst person in the college, a person who once viciously attacked him.

I’ve often wanted to be as even tempered as he and once said to him, “I wish I could get over things as quickly, as easily as you do.” His reply: “I wish I could care about things the way you do.”

I have more intense friendships and more intense hatreds; this is playing it self out in saying good-bye (or good riddance) to my colleagues.

Of course, some are really good friends and my relationship with them will continue, but I will have to put some effort into maintaining the ties.

More on this after April 15 retirement party.

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