Travel

Peering Past the Pandemic

I’m looking forward to a time when lunches with the girls (or guys), volunteering and travel will resume.

My column on the joys of being retired (Rethinking Retirement, "The Joys of Being Retired") drew a slew of responses—a couple of which were pretty grumpy. “Your column came from the la-la land of before the pandemic,” writes Scott Bigelow. “Lunches with the girls, volunteering, travel, sometimes even grandchildren are things that went away.” And from Kevin Swan: “This article is out of touch with what is happening in the world today. All the businesses you talk about that people who are retired have more time to enjoy—theaters, gyms, restaurants, to name a few—have been forced to close.”

But most of the responses were more upbeat. “I was happy to read about the numerous joys of other retired readers and chuckled at some of the comments,” says Louis Pinneri. “Our retirement activities may be temporarily restricted, but I very much look forward to the resumption of freely doing what we enjoy.”  

I’m with you, Mr. Pinneri. That was my intention in writing the column. Yes, this year has been an annus horribilis as far as the pandemic is concerned, but I wanted to look beyond COVID-19 to the time (soon, we hope) when lunches with the girls (or guys), volunteering and travel will resume. Many restaurants, gyms and other businesses have reopened, treatments have improved, and vaccines are on track.

My husband and I declared an end to our personal lockdown over the summer. Yes, we continued to follow all the rules (masks, distancing, avoiding large gatherings). But within those constraints, we were able to buy a new car and hit the road to visit scattered family members and grandchildren—including a brand new grandson—enjoy our annual family trip to the beach, dine al fresco, and return to outdoor exercise at our local YMCA. Finally, in September, we made the trip to Acadia National Park that we had been forced to postpone in May. And it all felt so refreshingly normal.

Other readers must also have appreciated a break, because despite the current circumstances, they continued to share their retirement joys. “I especially loved the last quote in your story from the man who likes to listen to morning traffic reports on rainy and snowy days,” writes Arthur Buonopane. “Even better is listening to traffic reports on my way to the golf course.”

Disappointments. There was one sober note, but it had nothing to do with the pandemic. “I enjoyed reading your readers’ glowing praise for the simple pleasures of retirement,” writes Tim Binzer, who is looking forward to retiring early. “Now that you have highlighted the pleasures, I hope you devote a future column to the disappointments. I want to make sure I’m not looking into the future with rose-tinted glasses.”

Mr. Binzer, one complaint I sometimes hear is expressed perfectly by Barry Solof, a semiretired physician. “When I fully retired several years ago, I was bored to death,” says Solof. “So I wound up going back to work in the mornings four days a week. Please let your readers know that retirement is not bliss for everyone and that some retirees require more structure.”  

Often couples who are accustomed to being apart seem to struggle with so much together time. “Sometimes you and your partner have totally different expectations,” writes Bharat Desai. “You end up getting involved in painful tasks to keep your partner happy!” Kathy Maynard says she keeps “scaring” her husband. “He sees me in one place in the house and the next minute I’m right behind him—as if his mind thinks I would stay in one place all day. But in my mind, there’s laundry to get started and more.”  

And Michael Brietich writes that after two years of an enjoyable retirement, “I find myself still searching for my sense of purpose now that I’m no longer working. I want to look back and know that we lived our best lives.”

Mr. Brietich, I’ll be happy to address that in a future column. And as usual, I’d love to hear how readers tackled that challenge.

Most Popular

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer
Coronavirus and Your Money

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your second stimulus check.
January 18, 2021
How a Third Stimulus Check Could Differ From the First and Second Payments
Coronavirus and Your Money

How a Third Stimulus Check Could Differ From the First and Second Payments

There's a big push in Washington for a third round of stimulus payments. But the amount and eligibility rules for your third stimulus check could be d…
January 27, 2021
When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?
Coronavirus and Your Money

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?

President Biden and others in Congress are pushing for a third-round of stimulus checks, but it might be a while before we get them.
January 20, 2021

Recommended

Shoring Up Social Security
Politics

Shoring Up Social Security

Social Security is headed for a shortfall. But sooner or later, lawmakers will act to preserve your benefits.
January 27, 2021
How to Address Retirees’ No. 1 Concern
retirement planning

How to Address Retirees’ No. 1 Concern

It’s a top worry for people nearing retirement: the fear of running out of money. By preparing for retirement with an income plan, you can feel confid…
January 27, 2021
Income Planning to Help You Win the Retirement Trifecta
retirement planning

Income Planning to Help You Win the Retirement Trifecta

With a retirement income plan that focuses on the allocation of income, and delivers lower fees and taxes, you can increase your income with less risk…
January 26, 2021
12 States That Won't Tax Your Retirement Income
Tax Breaks

12 States That Won't Tax Your Retirement Income

Retirees can save a lot of money in these states that completely exempt the most common types of retirement income – 401(k)s, IRAs and pensions – from…
January 25, 2021