Currently, I find myself poised between two other potential oppositions that somehow also twine themselves: Lasts and Firsts. Yesterday, I sat through the Last Library Instruction Session I will ever sit through with a 1st-year English class -- after having monitored at least thirty of these over the years. (Our university requires that all students take 1st-year English, and by then requiring all 1st-year English classes to include a mandatory Library Session, ensures that the student body, via the service English class, acquires rudimentary research skills. The librarians understandably insist that we, the course instructors, accompany our students -- and it gets a wee bit tedious by the, um, 3rd time!)
Today I'm invigilating my last mid-term exam essays, and over the next few days will be marking my last mid-terms. Then I'll only have a Last set of Research Papers and of Final Exams. There isn't much regret about finishing with marking, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have mixed feelings about some of the letting go.
That said, though, one of my colleagues commented today that I was grinning again. Apparently, I've been caught in that particular facial configuration rather often lately, and she suspects it might have something to do with my upcoming retirement.
So yes, I may have been thinking about Firsts. First summer not having to prepare myself for a return to classes. First year being able to contemplate travelling in the shoulder season. First opportunity to see Europe in the Fall. Perhaps even the winter.
Meanwhile, First time travelling to Paris with my sister happens in May. Paul and I are planning on a more extended trip later in the year (we weren't sure what would happen with his mother, so had sketched only a loose potential itinerary). My sister and I had talked, over the past few years, about the possibility of a trip together, and the timing seems right this year. We're both excited about it -- my Next Trip to Paris Pinterest board is overflowing with far too many possibilities for a one-week trip, and it will also be our first time to hang out in Paris with a nephew (he'll be in London at the time and plans to Eurostar it over for a day or two).
This awareness of Lasts and Firsts represents a significant small click for me in my perception of retirement's possible effects. More, perhaps, to follow, if I'm at all able to articulate this wee epiphany. Otherwise, perhaps you'll be able to sense it in my gradually shifting mood and focus. Were I able to formulate a question to elicit your comments, I guess it would be something about the number of steps in your own acceptance of retirement. I know some who have woken up one day, realized they were ready, and happily handed in two weeks' notice with never a regret in the following years. That's not an option in my field, and I can see that some might like watching retirement move closer and closer until they were finally able to put down the binoculars and embrace. Personally, having decided, I've found it tough to generate the necessary enthusiasm to do the good job I want to do. Thankfully, the teeny click I experienced the other day may have done the trick and I'll be happy enough to move through the next 3 or 4 months. But I'm curious to compare pathways. . . . even if they're imaginary and/or future ones.