Twelve years ago, I decided to retire from the work-a-day life and become independently poor.
I sat down on the back porch of my home in Jackson. With a notebook and pen, I jotted down my options along with the pros and cons of each one.
Option I: Stay put in my career and work another 15 years to build a more solid pension. But burn-out had set in and I had lost my ambition for anything more than watching my flowers grow. After working night and day for two decades, I’d made few close friends in the Capital City, which was fast becoming a non-community scattered across three counties;
Option 2: I could move to North Carolina (I do love the Carolinas), settle in a small mountain community and work in a book store or some place where “thinking” is not a requirement.
Then there was Option 3 and I knew from the “get go,” it was the best course of action. I could return to Starkville where I spent the entire decade of the 70s. I owned rental properties here which needed attention. Plus, I’d maintained close friendships formed in the 70s and would be close to my aging parents in West Point.
Being a “small town girl at heart”, I still wanted the amenities of a friendly, bustling community with lots of action. Starkville was a “no brainer,” though I didn’t know it at the time.
I quit my job, called a moving company, and within six weeks I was driving to Starkville with my Golden Retriever, ready to begin a new life at age 48. Imagine my surprise when I got to town and found other folks in my age bracket (ages 30 – 80) looking for “something more.”
Retirees were flocking to the Starkville-Mississippi State University – most had either attended school here or worked for the university somewhere along the way. This area gets in your blood and no matter where you may wander, all roads lead back here.
I joined the Starkville Community Theatre and landed a role in the production”Divorce Southern Style,” playing a drunken floozy. It was the most fun I’d ever had, although I wasn’t very good. Today, I settle for being part of the audiences at SCT.
I fell in with a sports loving crowd and discovered the joys of SEC baseball, basketball and football. I put my Ole Miss sweats in mothballs and became fond of the colors maroon and white.
Before I knew what was happening I was involved in the newly formed Starkville Arts Council and we began what would eventually evolve into the Cotton District Arts Festival.
A wonderful book club threw me together with a bunch of like-minded women whose friendship I treasure more with each passing year. I found a garden club that meets monthly and cuts up shamelessly – still waiting for any mention of gardening.
After knocking around at several local churches, I found the one that was just right for me, and low and behold I quenched a spiritual thirst I never knew I had!
Between concerts and art exhibits at Mississippi State University, I can now take college courses that interest me – tuition free once you reach the age of 50-10!
Anyone who says there’s nothing to do in the Starkville-MSU community, must be asleep at the wheel.
The only thing I would change is the synchronization of the traffic light system. It’s the pits. You can’t get through town without getting stopped at every single light.
So, I decided to use that time to count my blessings.