My apartment building is holding an ice cream social today. Oh, dear Lord! Did my parents, Mom then 24 and Dad 22, realize on that long-ago November day, that their beloved and newly born son would one day be living in a subsidized senior apartment complex which holds ice cream socials for its residents? Is that the extent of the dreams they had for me? Is that the extent of the dreams I had for myself?
And please don’t fret: this isn’t going to be a long, lugubrious trek through the dark, impenetrable jungles of self pity. You’ll not hear the plaintive call of the exotic Poor-Poor-Me, or the haunting, far-off cry of the Oh,Woe echoing through the thick foliage.
In truth, I’m rather bemused by the whole situation, and the only real negative in it all is the realization of just what a snob I am. I do not attend building ice cream socials, or the occasional bingo game, or join in the bus excursions to various gambling casinos in nearby northern Indiana. I pass among the little old men and little old women in the lobby and in the halls, and I have absolutely nothing at all in common with them. I surely am not as old as they, or as infirm. I hold my head up high (figuratively, of course, since I can’t actually lift it high enough to see the floor indicator above the elevators). I am better than they, somehow (please do not ask for a detailed list of “how”…just take my word for it).
But I do have one great advantage over most of my aging peers, in that I, in a very real (to me) sense, am able to and do live in two worlds: the world in which my body is trapped and suffers the indignities of aging…over which I have relatively little control…and the world of my books, which provide me with a great deal of comfort and pleasure. And I can and do move freely between them. When one proves troublesome, I can quickly step into the other.
This arrangement is particularly valuable as the years pile up, since the world of writing is not subject to the same immutable rules as the world of the body. But, as with most things, there is a danger…one I increasingly realize…of retreating too far into my inner world.
A group of friends meets every day at a coffee shop a mile or so away, which provides good exercise in the walk, and I go more often than I normally would because my friend Gary, who lives in my building, enjoys it so. But my problem is that, aside from the fact that I really drink coffee more out of habit than true desire, I find that I have little or nothing at all to contribute to the conversation…which generally revolves around opera, in which I have an astonishing lack of interest. Still, I feel mildly uncomfortable with the fact that I do not have much to say in groups of any kind. I prefer to come home and write, which I realize only accelerates the withdrawal process a lot of people tend to go through as the years progress.
So, between paragraphs, I returned from coffee with the gang, and actually did say a bit more than usual, possibly because the conversation was not limited to opera. So perhaps all is not lost.
But I did not go to the ice cream social.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: