Charlotte, NC, where the 50th anniversary of Unitarian Universalism is being celebrated at the annual General Assembly.
Despite the blandishments of HOT WEATHER, I would prefer to stay here on my island in Puget Sound where it is raining again and where I have just had to fill up my home fuel tank for over $1000, after a mere six months of daily furnace usage. It is June 23 and the furnace is running again because the outside air is 50 degrees. But I love it in the Pacific Northwest more than any other place on the earth, even if it does get a little rainy at times.
There is a part of me that misses the organized chaos and bonhomie of GA, the wisdom of colleagues who've stayed the course for 50 and 25 years, reconnecting with people I see very seldom and maybe have only met on Facebook.
I have only been to one GA since I moved to the island in 2003, and that one was in Portland, just down the road. I may never go again, even when I retire and can participate in the ceremony of the Living Tradition as a minister going into retirement. It just isn't appealing to travel across the country, spend bushels of money, and dress well every day in order to maintain my professional image among the laity.
I'd rather stay home with the cats, wear my jeans and sweatshirts, and go to the local jam, cook my own meals, go to bed at a decent hour, and miss out on all the educational and collegial fun. I remember GA's as being absolutely frantic; I always felt I needed to attend multiple educational and governance sessions but I inevitably skipped out on most of them and schmoozed with friends in the exhibit hall. The guilt of spending all that money to hang out around the booths and the buddies rather than boning up on stewardship campaigns and other ministerial topics----that eventually became too much of a burden. So I don't go any more.
Instead, I am going to indulge in an activity next weekend that I haven't enjoyed for 20 years, in fact ever since I began my journey into ministry: the Mensa Annual Gathering which, in a stroke of luck, is in Portland OR! At an AG, I never feel guilty about avoiding all the educational sessions and schmoozing with friends in the hospitality suite or the bookstore or the game room or the nightly fishbowl conversations. In fact, that's what I go for.
Their business meeting takes a couple of hours in the front end of the weekend and nobody is required to go. And everybody likes my jokes, which can be slightly raunchy at times and not appropriate for professional occasions. This time I'm even going to strut my stuff at the after-hours cabaret, since Richard is also a Mensan and also going to the AG. We're gonna do some of our Hoagy Carmichael songs and I'm going to wear a slinky dress and sing "Stardust" into the ears of some so-called geniuses whom I haven't seen for 20 years and just hope they have their hearing-aids turned up.
All this thinking about retirement has me looking with great interest at a future down the road which has fewer professional responsibilities and much more time for kicking up my elderly heels. At the beach. Maybe with a dog. Tidepools in the early morning. Big waves. "Ocian in view. O the joy!"