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Gap Year

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Nearly 4- months after my last day of work, I feel like it's my first day of school.

Morning jitters followed a sleepless night as I went over my packing list again and again and again. Today I am NY- bound alone. My life partner is enroute to Europe and for the first time since I retired I'm not accompanying him on his business trip. My decision to leave TV news was partially to be my husband's travel buddy. Since December we've been to Chile, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Singapore and Indonesia. It's been good for me, great for him. But that's just part of my new life.

I'm calling 2010 my gap year. That term usually refers to the time students take between high school and college, or between college and graduate school to take a break from academics, work, travel, or just get off the gerbil wheel and contemplate what they want to do next. It's a concept a long time coming and I think, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, it's wasted on the young.

So here I sit on the Amtrak train, looking forward to a week in NYC by myself. I'll see friends. I'll head up to New Haven to take our son to dinner. I'll work on our new apartment. I'll walk and bike in Central Park, see theatre, eat out. And maybe I'll figure out what I want to do next. Or maybe not.

I'm searching for something between the daily grind of local news and the bucolic life of a being a retiree. Is it academia? Teaching or going for an advanced degree? Serving on boards to "give back?" Do I get a new agent and go out for voice-over work? ( How many of us listen to books on tape narration and think "I could do that?") I love writing, how could I parlay that into a part-time gig (aside from Huffington Post?!)

Since retiring I'm often asked if I'm "keeping busy." The whole idea of retiring was to be LESS busy! So why do I feel a bit guilty about that? I find it ironic that our society still undervalues working women... yet undervalues non-working women even more! And is that really the case or am I projecting? (Once a psych major always a psych major.)

My first morning here I meet an old college friend to walk around the reservoir. We move briskly through Central Park. She has to go to work. As does the vast majority of the smartly dressed people I see hailing cabs and descending the steps of subway stations. I feel a little silly in my sweats with no schedule. No deadlines to stress over. I can actually tune out the news when it gets to me. For the first time in decades I don't have a job. I know that won't last. I've never been really good at doing nothing. But right now my only assignment is to fill this "gap" with gratitude and savor every minute. And I'm working for an A.