Retirement

January 18th, 2010
Patti Smith:Carolyn Cole:Los Angeles Times
Patti Smith:Carolyn Cole:Los Angeles Times

Patti Smith interview in Sunday’s L.A. Times Calendar section. Her book is out: “Just Kids.” About her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, and NYC’s pop culture scene in the late 60s and 70s.

She’s 63. And she sounds like she always has: wry, thoughtful, and sensitive. Her future? Writing, making records: “I’ve got a million ideas.”

She’s just two years from 65–Official Retirement Age! But isn’t it absurd to think that she’d just stop doing what she’s been doing her whole life, and go on permanent vacation?

Who came up with that concept, anyway —the one where you leave your job, your family and friends, your community—your whole frickin life, and move to AZ to play golf and take up painting, with like-minded people, 65 or older? Meet you in the rec room at seven!!

Maybe, back in the 50s, a savvy housing developer saw all those rust belt union men, with good pensions and health insurance, being “retired” at 65, and who, after having worked as mind numbing human machines for 40 years, were looking for payback: all fun and all sun all the time. A Permanent Vacation. Forget winters in Akron and Detroit, and voila! Sun City is born. Honey, pack the car!

But that mold is not the Baby Boomer mold.

We didn’t labor in a factory next to a 2,000-degree vat of boiling ore. We left home at 18 to go to college, maybe a trip to Europe, moved again for the job we wanted etc. We are the rootless, upwardly mobile, divorce generation. Why would we want to leave our life here—our little island of stability in a chaotic world, and go move somewhere else, for a permanent vacation?

I just don’t get it. Decreeing “65” as retirement time –ready or not, here it comes—and then leaving life as you’ve known it to go set up shop somewhere new, just because?

Exactly, what are the benefits? Maybe in the future this will make sense, and be just what I want. But for now, like I said, I just don’t get it.

One Response to “Retirement”

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