Transitions

Now that I’m out of school, there’s a sense of relief and a sense of disbelief. The sense of relief in that I made it through the last few weeks without some incident inadvertently occurring to sour the end that I had been anticipating for such a long time; a sense of disbelief in that I already find myself thinking in terms of how much more vacation time I have left, when I have all the time in the world as a character said in one of my favorite science fiction films.

I don’t think that I will really feel like my retirement has started until the retirement visa is in place, and I’ve gone back to Sumbawa to move the rest of the family back. There is a lot to do in a certain defined period of time – visa, moving, getting the children’s school registrations done in the required time – but then there’s a vastness ahead that I can just glimpse.

I skipped my final dinner as is my custom; not being one for social events (and everyone seemed to take that quite well as it was, at least by a few, expected behavior, but there was a farewell ceremony for the departing students and the departing teachers. My students and my homeroom colleague had a great deal of fun at my expense recounting my idiosyncrasies – wearing a slew of pens on my identity badge, running over a variety of animals in Sekongkang; talking to my computer in my office and myself in class; telling long convoluted stories of events and people from my past to make some obscure point in Social Studies or Math. It was actually rather pleasant despite my having dreaded the moment for months. I was given a lovely farewell present of a pack of gift certificates for a bookstore in Singapore so I can buy the research books I need for my book on Islam. And, a few of my colleagues presented me with some nice scotch to kick off retirement (my fondness for scotch is well known). And then, at the last moment, my friend from school decided to purchase another piece of land that we owned in Sumbawa, so we have a little extra money to finance my journey into writing books.

We still have the big house in Sekongkang, and as there are no buyers at this time, we will keep it and make journeys back and forth as needed to look after the house and visit old friends. I’d hate to leave Sumbawa for good, as the island is as wild and lovely as can be imagined.

Today is the 10th anniversary of my last retirement (which went incredibily poorly) and the finishing of the house that I am sitting in now. The Rambutan House (as I call it) is a little worse for wear – the tropics do take their toll on things; the natural tendency for nature being to return to its original state.

So instead of looking out on the jungle now from my house in Sekongkang, I stare out at the Bali Sea to the north and the mountains to the south. There are stores and people and traffic and regulations to get used to – we lived pretty much as we pleased in Sekongkang due to my wife’s gregarious nature and her close relationship with the community.

It’s been ten years since I’ve lived in Bali on a full-time basis and there have been many changes – some for the better, some for the worse. It’s a fine place that I’ve loved since I first descended from the Merpati plane 19 years ago and made my way to the Bakungsari Cottages, and then in a piece of luck up north to the Singaraja area which is where I plan to finish out this phase of existence.

I’m looking forward to getting my iMac over here so that I have my resources at hand; until then, I’ll work on the laptop that I’ve borrowed from my daughter.

Mercedes and I had our first breakfast together this morning; a brother-in-law stopped by the welcome me back; a nephew came over to play with Mercedes’ bunny; I took a look at the repairs I want to make to the house and started to get organized for the trip to Singapore in a few days. I’ll turn 59 in a few weeks – sometimes it seems amazing that I’ve reached this age; sometimes I have to remember to stop acting like I’m still 17. Whatever happens over the coming weeks, months, and, inshallah, years isn’t clear yet – but I’m ready for another adventure, the collecting of a few more tales to spin, the search for a few more answers to the many questions that I’ve gathered like small shells over the almost six decades of existence.

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~ by drbrucepk on June 15, 2008.

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