Let me take this opportunity to set the record straight – I am not retiring.
The topic has been brought up a couple of times recently, including one well-wisher at Friday night’s Escalon High School graduation who told me she had read about it somewhere. She couldn’t remember exactly where but she was sure congratulations were in order.
This well-wisher also happened to be the aunt of one of the EHS grads and the mother of a soccer player my daughter played travel ball with for years. I had to assure her that wherever she read it, the report was false, as I have no plans to retire.
It was a very busy week, with graduations over several days and nights and lots of season-end awards for sports teams and at one of the earlier events, the retirement scenario was also brought up.
Okay, I know that my vacations are few and far between and I was just out of state for a week so people may have been shocked I was gone, but that was not a precursor to retirement. There are still too many stories for me to write, too many photos to take, too many events to chronicle.
Plus there really isn’t what you could call a lucrative retirement plan in the small town newspaper business and since I am not independently wealthy, there won’t be any riding off into the sunset for a while. Not to mention the fact that there’s a wedding to help pay for and four wisdom teeth giving my (still-on-my-insurance-policy) daughter trouble that need to be pulled.
I suppose if all the pieces fell into place and a Hollywood ending appeared, my occasional lottery ticket purchase would be a big winner. Then I would pay off my debts, buy a tiny house on wheels and travel the country. Don’t worry, I’d send postcards to keep you all updated on my whereabouts.
But this isn’t Hollywood; it’s real (not reel) life and so we keep on moving forward.
Graduations definitely fit that category, moving forward, as graduates at all levels get ready to move on to their next adventure. Whether it is the preschoolers having their ceremony and preparing for kindergarten or the seniors putting a wrap on their high school years, graduations are both an ending and a beginning.
One of my favorite things to do is work at the Sober Grad Night party for seniors and Escalon’s followed their graduation on May 31. I typically get to work the first shift and then grab a few photos to capture the event afterward; this year I was stationed outside on the tennis courts where the various ‘inflatables’ were set up, from the huge twister game to the boxing ring, the oversized obstacle course to the hamster balls. Much of my shift, in fact, was spent at the hamster balls, helping the kids get in, sending them down the track as they raced each other and then helping stop the ball when they returned to the starting line. It was harder than it sounds; the kids are excited, full of energy, the human hamster balls roll at fairly high speeds and you have to position yourself just right so you don’t get flattened. Most of the time, it worked. Once, I nearly got rolled over but was saved by a recent graduate and another time, when an overanxious racer took off on his own while I was still hanging on to the handle, he nearly took my shoulder out of the socket.
A couple of the other volunteers tried out a few of the activities before the students checked in; let’s just say the mechanical bull is also harder than it looks.
No, there will be no retirement for a while; I still enjoy what I do too much and keeping up with school kids goes a long way toward keeping me feeling young. Even if stopping hamster balls Friday night definitely made me feel my age on Saturday morning.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.