Monday, July 11, 2011

Retirementis Interruptus

Seven weeks do not a retirement make.

In fact, I haven’t even really had the seven weeks. Yes, it’s been that long since I said goodbye to the café. And, darn it; I was looking forward to a rest. Long days of doing just exactly what I wanted and nothing more. Sleeping in, playing in my garden, writing Important Essays. Cooking for just myself and the hubs. Long walks with dog in tow. Finally learning how to use my camera.

But no… I’ve had a damned “to-do” list strapped to my back that I just can’t get out from under. Production for the concession business. Cleaning out and cleaning up the restaurant space. An event in Astoria. Juggling final payments out of the dwindling café funds. The only thing in the past two months that has even vaguely resembled “retirement”—and the rest and solitude for which I am so desperate—was my stolen week in Seaside.

Why I accepted the offer of a concession space at the County Fair this week, I have no idea. The proposal came at a time when I was feeling poor and wondering exactly how the bills were going to get paid, so I jumped on it; though, in the back of my mind, I knew I didn’t really want to do it. Partially because, rather than the completely different fare our concession business normally offers, what we are doing at the fair is basically creating a smaller, short term-version of the Old Town Café. Chosen favorites from the OTC menu and fresh baked goods. Lots of groceries, lots of labor intensity. I even enlisted the aid of three of my former employees to help me run the place.

And the husband. THAT was a can of worms that didn’t need cracking.

When we first started “our” business back in 2002, we assumed a lot, based on our relatively harmonious long-term relationship. We assumed we would be partners. We assumed we could work together amiably. I assumed that, since I would be the one with more hours to invest, I would take the lead in organization and planning, and he would step in and help when needed. Well, you know what happens when you assume. The reality is, if he can’t own it completely, he’s really not interested in committing to it. He wants to be involved only when he wants to be involved. This was a recurring source of irritation to me in the concession business. When it came to the restaurant, it was deadly. Literally. That lack of consistent commitment on his part was one of the major factors in the demise of the Old Town Café.

I have no idea why I “assumed” his commitment and cooperation with this venture at the fair. Honestly, if nine years of running up against the same brick wall doesn’t teach you anything, what’s it going to take? So it wasn’t enough that I had to reluctantly drag myself out of my so-far non-retirement to do this thing I wished I’d never promised to do. I didn’t even get a chance to straighten my shoulders, paste a smile on my face and sally forth with at least the pretense of a positive attitude. Because before we knew it, the husband and I were at each other’s throats, just like in the darkest days of our restaurant tenure. A flashback like that I SO didn’t need. Like a giant ugly hand appearing from out of nowhere, it squashed me like a bug.

As always, we endured two or three really rocky days, patched things up, and are now able to at least be civil to one another. But I SO don’t want to do this anymore. Ten years ago, I made a decision to get out of the workplace because I was always so miserable working for other people. I believed he supported me in that. But the strife between him and me has made it so that I am every bit as miserable trying to work for myself. It might not be possible, within the context of our relationship, for me to be self-employed—doing anything, even if it has nothing to do with him and doesn’t require him to help me in any way—without stirring up that pot of anger and resentment. And even if I accomplished that, even if I created something that was completely my own and he had no part in, the fact that I HAD to would very likely take all the joy out of it. But there it is.

Oh, well. Seven more days to get through at the fair, and then I can get on with my retirement. Oops…no, we have our big event coming up in mid-August. No retirement in the offing between then and now, I’m afraid.

But September. Ah, September. I can hardly wait…


  1. hard to yearn for that which is continually delayed..hang in there!

  2. i totally understand how frustrating it can be when you feel like you have to accept to do a job financialy when actually you feel like not ever doing it.

    i hope it turned out to be fine for you.