39,653 Hours Till I Retire, So Today I Walk

Today I met with a financial advisor. He was a nice man. He used all kinds of big financial words, threw around the term ‘economic forecast’ and even ventured a conversation about ‘mutual funds.’ Having been a working woman for 23 years, I’ve had a dance or two with financial advisors so today I just wanted the facts. No song. No dance. Just the bottom line.

My bottom line…I will be eligible for retirement in the year 2035.

See I had to stop writing for a minute just to let that sink in.

I have already been working for 23 years. Or for the entirety of my full grown adult life I have been working. Not only have I been working the entirety of my full grown adult life but I have been working 2 – 3 jobs at a time with side gigs and small business ventures.

Let me say that again…

For 23 years I have been working a minimum of 2 jobs at a time while also juggling a host of side gigs and small business ventures. Yet according to a very nice man, who happens to work as a financial advisor, my retirement investments will not come to full maturity until the year two thousand and thirty five. 2. 0. 3. 5.


When my mother was my age she had been working just as long as I have been working and she was able to retire in full with only putting another 5 years in. According to these calculations I will have to work another 19 years before I am able to enjoy the retirement my mother was able to enjoy after working full time for half the time.

Let me say that again…

At 45 years old, I have been working as long as my mother worked when she was 45. However, at 45 years old my mother was able to plan for her full retirement at age 50. I will have to work an additional 19 years at the same rate of employment I currently enjoy in order to retire in the year 2,035 when I will be 64 years old. At that point in my life I would have worked a total of 41 years, according to the very nice man.

41 years of service.

What then will be the quality of my life?

The nice man, who happens to work as a financial advisor, called me a young woman. He said to me, “You’re a young woman. You still have so much time.” Those words hung in the air like the scent of overcooked cabbage on the third day.




They linger in my thoughts now.




The thought of them clog up the sewage that runs through my mind and I can feel myself choking on the idea of exactly how much time will go into the next 19 years.

2,087 hours make up a conservative work year.

So…if I follow the nice man’s plan, I will work for someone else for another 39,653 hours. How many meetings will that make? How many phone calls will I need to return? How many emails will I write? How many hands will I pat? How many tissues will I hand out? How many times will I say to someone else, “What do you want to do now?” How many ears will hear me speak the words, “How may I help?” How many food drives can one create in 39,653 hours? How many times can one reorganize a coat closet? How many kids will come and grow and go after 39,653 hours? And who will I become?

Who will I become after 19 Christmases? After 19 birthdays? What kind of mother will evolve in me, after finally admitting the tooth fairy is not real? How will he see me if I am old? If I feel weak? In 19 years there will be multiple graduations and pictures taken in celebration. Will I recognize the woman standing besides the boy who will become a man?

In 39,653 hours how many firsts will I miss? How many meetings will be interrupted because it’s my son on the other line? How many times will I sneak out to get a peak at his day? How many doctor’s appointments will I have to take PTO (paid time off) in order to make? How many times will I rush home hoping for more time alone after spending most of my day in service to someone else? How many minutes will I hide in the bathroom for a breath after taking in so much grief?

So the BIG HAIRY ASS GOAL, I talked about yesterday. It has to come to pass. I have to complete this half marathon. I have to grow in stamina, in strength, in speed. It is imperative that this body that carries this person who still has 39,653 more hours of work (according to a very nice man) to do in this world be able to withstand the nature of the work I have been called to do.

Here’s a snap shot of my work life:

A few of my first service learners stopped in to say hi to me today. Even though they’re grown up they’re still ‘my kids.’

First thing this morning, I met an 8th grader on the stairs (I take the stairs now) who wanted to take my picture. She said she was doing a ‘Humans of…” project like the social media expose ‘Humans of New York’. She wanted me to be ‘her human.’ It touched my heart because 2 years ago I couldn’t get her to talk and now she’s so full of expression she can barely contain herself.

My featured image is the picture she took of me today. Me, working.

The moment after that picture was taken my office was overrun by 9th grade girls. My 9th grade girls are unlike the 9th grade girls you imagine, mine don’t giggle. They don’t trade secrets about boys who like them or boys they like. They don’t care about lip gloss or nail polish. My 9th grade girls are working diligently to puzzle together broken worlds in words that don’t match feelings that leave them taxed and full of despair. But today they wanted to talk about a field trip and ice cream and I held the space for that. And immediately following holding space for ice cream, I met a mother of a child who is German born but of Greek descent with a foothold in Jamaica and an expiring passport. I taught her how to navigate the public transportation system and hugged her as she prayed. And all that happened before 10 am. Cause see it was at 10 am that life got REAL interesting.

So I have to be stronger. I have to be fitter. This life requires stamina. This life requires speed. This life requires me at full tilt.

So after meeting with that nice man and talking about how much money I could accrue in the next 39,653 working hours of my life. I took a walk.

2 miles later…I exhale my day and get ready for the night.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. heyannis says:

    And in Maya’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” she was talking about YOU. Persevere and rock on and walk on, Ms. Wanda. xoA

    1. And hopefully one day I’ll be able to enjoy retirement life.

  2. Sonni Harvin says:

    Do you have any idea what a literary talent you are?

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the read and the compliment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s