Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Retirement? Hah!

You know those Christmas letters you hate to get from the member of the family who, it seems, always has the perfect life?

I got one of those from my cousin last week.

This is how the letter went:

"Once again, it has been a busy year.  We visited family and friends in Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida and Colorado.

......spent three months at an RV park in Michigan near our grandsons...

...had a knee replacement, but was diligent about rehab so we could continue to enjoy the rest of the year traveling and visiting...

...went with our RV club to New Mexico and the Grand Tetons.

...flew to Barcelona in October, where we embarked on a voyage in the Western Mediterranean...

...remained on ship for a trans-Atlantic crossing with stops in Morocco and the Canary Islands..."


Cuz is thirteen years older than me...not exactly a Boomer.  She was born in 1942.  That makes her 74 years old. 

Seriously, I'm happy for her.  She and her husband both retired from long-term stints with large corporations, when decent pensions were still a thing.  They owned a home in suburban Chicago for thirty years, which they sold--at the right time--for many times what they paid for it, bought a motorhome and became snowbirds.  Then they decided they didn't like not having a home base, so they bought a home in Arizona.  Which they must live in about two weeks a year...or maybe only when recovering from knee surgery.

Ah...they are living what I always assumed retirement would be.  Should be.  But will never be.  Not for me or the rest of us in our early 60's, bringing up the rear of the post-war retirement boom.  Dropping rung by rung out of the middle class...with no idea what life will look like five--or ten or fifteen years down the road--when we might finally have to retire because we're too old and decrepit to do anything else.  Europe?  The Mediterranean?  Not a chance.  There will hardly be money to travel this country...well, we could actually be living in our car, so travel might be a thing after all.   I wonder if we'll still be $200k in debt by the time we have to retire?  The way the country is going, debtors' prisons will probably be making a comeback.  So maybe we won't be living in our car after all.

The picture perfect retirement my cousin is enjoying is nothing but an impossible dream for us.  If I let myself think about it, I don't know whether to be scared shitless or just depressed as hell.      

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