If I had to sit down and write all the advantages of being retired, I could fill a book with all the joys of retirement.
But there are small disadvantages too, in addition to no paycheck.
One disadvantage is there is no special day of the week.
During my working career, I looked forward to Friday nights. That was always my time to let go of the pressures of the week and sit back and relax with my husband.
Often, that meant going out to dinner. Sometimes it meant getting a pizza. The most important thing was that, for my husband and me, it was our time to set everything aside and be together.
After Andy died, I continued my special Friday nights out by going for pizza with my friend, Doris. We had a standing date to do that and I always looked forward to it.
That Friday night ritual was like a period at the end of a sentence. It marked the end of week – a pause before rushing into the next activity.
Friday night must mean a night out for many people because the restaurants are always more crowded. And traffic increases so much that I always joke God must bless the cars each Friday and make them multiple.
Now that I'm retired, I can do anything I want every day of the week. But if you don't set one day aside and make it special, every day seems to blend in with each other.
David and I joke that if it weren't for kayak club meetings on Wednesday and church on Sunday, we wouldn't know what day of the week it is.
I also joke that I need one of those big calendars they have in nursing homes. You know the kind. In great big letters it says, "Today is…"
Without defining times during the week, I would never know what day it is. Heck, here in Florida where it's summer all year, I'm lucky if I know what season it is.
On Memorial Day I told David it was the first day of summer. He said the first day of summer is officially in June.
No, I told him, from the time I was a kid the first day of summer was the first day I could go swimming.
"But you can just about swim year round now," he countered.
See what I mean it's hard to tell the seasons apart when you live here.
I still try to delineate my days by keeping Sunday special. After church and kayaking, I proclaim that I give myself permission to lull around and do nothing.
My husband reminds me I could "relax and do nothing" every day of the week, if I wanted to.
It never works that way. There aren't many days when we do nothing.
What always amuses me are the times when David and I just proclaim a time for us to be together.
Now get this. We are two retired people with no one else in the house except us. Why would we need special times to "just be together?"
As many married couples will tell you, there's a big difference between two people spending time in the same house, or two people spending time together.
David gets preoccupied with stuff on his computer – studying photo techniques, looking up stocks. I get preoccupied with writing my newspaper features and columns.
Sometimes we like to get away from the house and away from our established routine to just enjoy being with each other. That happened Tuesday when I had a doctor's appointment an hour away. When David offered to drive me, I suggested we "make it a great day" by spending time together after the appointment.
It was a great day, too. We spent time browsing at Barnes and Noble bookstore and had lunch at one of my favorite stops. Next time, we vowed, we're taking our bikes along so we can bike in a new area.
When I worked full time, I looked forward to vacations the same way a kid looks forward to Christmas. Excitement would build as vacation time approached and I would regard each vacation day as a prized treasure.
Now, during retirement, we could call every day a vacation day. But it's not. It's getting away from a normal routine that counts as a vacation.
For David and me, our favorite kind of vacation is traveling a few hours to another part of the state to bike, kayak and sightsee.
Sure, we often bike and kayak at home. But it's totally different when we explore a new area for our favorite activities. When we're away, we both feel more carefree, more connected, more adventurous.
I suppose we could do those vacation getaways more often. But we don't. That's probably why those little vacations stay special.
The other day I heard a talk-show host ask a recently retired executive what he missed most about work.
"Vacation time," he said.
In that same vein, I went in today to the pool supply store where my friend Allen works. "Three more hours!" he said. "Three more hours until it's officially the weekend and I can go fishing."
He grinned when I told him he wouldn't get that excited about fishing when he can do it every day.
"If you call that a problem," he says, "that's one problem I look forward to having."
He's right about that. When you're retired, you can make every day of the week special.