This has been a very painful time and, at the same time, a time to learn.
I retired from UM about 3 years ago and now I continue to work freelance on various projects. When I left I had seven Downbeat awards (from what is perhaps the best jazz magazine in the world) including the Lifetime Achievement award in Jazz Education that is given only once a year in a world-wide competition.
Retirement is a bittersweet cup to drink from, as you have a lot of time available that you didn’t have before. But you also start to miss a lot of the things you left behind, and as I live alone I began to get acquainted with something I didn’t know all that well before: loneliness.
I also became very close to someone with whom I spent little time while in my old job. His name is Bully and he’s a black cat, University of Miami royalty. He is truly the closest thing to a human I’ve ever met, and I have promised myself to take care of him, even though I don’t bring him to live with me because he already has his habits and I know he would never get used to living with me in a very comfortable but small studio
When the epidemic started it became really traumatic. I felt as if I was living in a science fiction novel. In addition to everything else my pension suffered a huge drop. Thank God I was able to recover about half!
For two and a half years every day I dedicate my time to Bully from 8 to 10 pm. every day. I feed him and sometimes after he eats I tell him things that happened to me and I could swear that sometimes he actually understands me. He is a very smart animal, and UM music students have him as a pet. He’s the only one who’s seen me cry in all this time.
I have no girlfriend or partner these days. I have a few friends and a cousin who is more than a sister but what with the virus nobody wants to see anybody. I remembered a writer whom I saw on TV who wrote a short story about a young man who was completely immune and who was paid to go to nursing homes and similar places to give hugs to people.