When I retired from my college professor career in 2002 I imagined a gentler and more relaxed way of life, maybe catching up on some reading and re-indulging in hobbies I hadn’t had time for in a while. Certainly, to begin with things seemed to be going in that direction, despite continuing involvement in education and training as a consultant and even visiting such romantic destinations as Vietnam and Romania in that capacity.
When Wendy and I first moved permanently to the US things continued in that fairly leisurely way. Everything changed, however, when we moved to Big Stone Gap and opened the bookstore! Ah- the bookstore!!
Most folk probably think that opening and running a bookstore is a dream come true and that is true to some extent – but for me there is a darker side. As the shop became established and our stock expanded so did the need to find space and fill the space with bookshelves. For the last few years I’ve fondly imagined that I’ve made my last set of bookshelves, but no, Wendy (my boss) somehow manages to continue to find ever more obscure corners just crying out for another lot.
And I don’t help myself, either. Just a few days ago I was down in our basement (currently only accessible from outside in the back yard) and realized that there was a covered over internal staircase. EUREKA! Well – ‘maybes aye and maybes naw’ (as we say in Scotland) – the trouble is that, although half the basement is a decent height, there’s only brick and concrete walls and no ceilings. There’s only very minimal lighting and no power outlets, and the hidden stairwell is full of later added cables and water pipes to the washing machine that’s going to have to find a new home.
Then there’s shelving all these pesky books that people will insist on bringing in – but hey, that’s another story – – –
What does all this add up to? As an old colleague of mine once said to me when I asked how he was enjoying retirement – “Jack – it was made for a younger man than me!”