Based on the people I know who have gone down this road, retirement is not the same for anybody. As an unpartnered, older woman, I am going crazy trying to envision my mine. I don’t like traveling and I don’t like volunteering. I have no grandchildren and hobbies bore me. For many years, I experimented with religion but it didn’t suit me.
I could probably avoid thinking about it if I had not put my home on the market. This kind of forces the issue. And, it has shaken up my life. There are strangers coming into my home and I am not in control anymore. The stager brought in all kinds of stuff I hate. When I tried to intervene she said, “It’s not your place anymore, you’re selling.” Everytime I see the fake plant in the corner of the living room I get agitated. The realtor, who is big on “light” keeps scrunching up the drapes and pulls the blinds up crooked. When I came home after the last open house I noticed that someone with hideous perfume had spent a long time in my walk-in closet and that someone had decided to relax for awhile on my bed.
What is it going to be like when I can’t walk into my home and lock the door against the outside world? To say this is freaking me out would be an understatement. Can a solitary introvert survive outside of a protected enclosure?
Over the years I have created various masks that helped me survive, but aging seems to tear these masks apart rather quickly and mercilessly. I imagine sometimes that my inner self has no mask and needs no enclosure. If I give this inner self the respect it justly deserves, perhaps it won’t matter where I live. Maybe this is my real life, long buried under all the debris of otherness. It would good to stop forcing it to dance to the wrong tune.
I assume I will rent an apartment somewhere but this is not very appealing. What I would really like is to live in an introvert community. This might sound like a contradiction, but really, what are most monasteries? Why can’t secular people live in quasi-monastic environments?
I used to stay at a retreat center that would be perfect for this. There were eight bedrooms, each with a private bath and patio, as well as a communal library, kitchen, dining room and meditation room. During most of the day, silence was maintained. People could talk during meals or if they wanted to go out on the grounds. There were no televisions and no one could have guests. All socializing had to be done in the small town nearby.
More and more, I feel drawn to the idea of secular “contemplative communities” where introverts can nurture and honor their unique presence in the world. If anyone knows where I could find one of these, let me know.