Busy weekends are the norm now that we have no kids, no debt and no dog at home. The wife and I are off the leash on weekends, able to dance and party outside our circa 1985 raised rancher where we raised three girls and lots of pets over the past 33 years. Never imagined having the money or time or energy to do all we are doing in our early 60’s, that’s our dog years not the 1960’s. Plus, since my wife looks so much younger than I do, it’s like I’m Roy Moore. Ick, let’s see. How about Hugh Hefner? What? Dead? Uh, how about never mind? Anyway, she’s still beautiful and we’re getting more competent at ballroom dance, twinkling through the rumba, aka, the dance of love.
Danced Friday night with fancy dance friends, foxtrot lesson, and then kept on going to a brewery joint with a blues band cranking till past my bedtime. Anti- nursing home fun was had by all. We danced as the younger patrons went home. What? Oh truly, youth is wasted on the young. Our table closed the place. Each couple weighed in at 110 plus years of life experience times four couples; all told we were pulling over 450 years among us. I felt like I was in the dance mafia with Kirk playing Don Corleone. “Sonny, give this money to the band. Make them an offer they cannot refuse.” The band played on. Got home after midnight and it wasn’t even New Year’s Eve. I rarely see the a.m. side of midnight anymore, but there we were, flopping into our bed around 1:00 a.m. Naps are lifesavers not breath mints, my friends. Personally, I believe an hour of daytime sleep is equivalent to two night time hours of sleep. And yes, these late nights would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of late afternoon naps.
I knew we had to move the bed upstairs on Saturday. To make this happen we had to clean out two rooms, move the broken-down bed parts, and then clean up the original bedroom where we had slept for the last 23 years, back into the bedroom we had vacated when the kids were little… 1994. Weird, weird, weird. The mattress felt like a dead sumo wrestler as we pushed and pulled it up the stairs, huffing and puffing with only the edges to grasp. I cursed in Japanese…Kuso! which is not the brand name of my old mattress. Once we had all the components upstairs, we re-assembled and leveled the frame, box spring and sumo wrestler.
Okay, you might think we were done, but no, you’d be wrong. After much cleaning and rearranging, a power nap revived us for an evening dance that night. Three hours of chatting, laughing, snacking, drinking and dancing wound up at 10 p.m. Oh we waltzed, rumbaed, cha chaed, fox trotted, strolled, tangoed, and generally had a wonderful time. Well, we needed to wind down with some red wine before sleeping in our new old bedroom. Maybe 11:30 p.m. when we settled in as the super moon shone outside. Inside we slept like happily hibernating brown bears spooning and mooning on the dead sumo wrestler mattress, which occasionally grunted “Oh matsuma”, which means nothing in any language. I just like the sound of it.
Sunday challenged us to get up for church services. I’d been tagged to teach a lesson on communication. Imagine that. Breakfast was banging apple crisp, fresh brewed coffee, and scrambled eggs. Away we went, groomed and grooved for church and then a fast escape north for a day with our grand kids. Everything fell in place and we did not fall on our faces somehow. I’m encouraged. I’m not sure if life is better or I’m just more appreciative of it in my sixth decade. So far my wife and I remain healthy as we prepare for retirement up ahead. Still, we’re getting up every day and going to work without many complaints. So far, so good… like a good red wine that only improves with age.
When I recall my own parents at 60+, I don’t associate vigorous movement with them. In his green fake leather wing chair, my dad lifted cigarettes and coffee and beer to his lips while camped out behind the Washington Post. Smoke signals would arise from behind the A section as he read George Will’s editorials. My mother called him Dad, which is weird to me now. Sometimes Dad would put the paper down and respond. Sometimes not. Arterio sclerosis is a quiet guest that ever so slowly moves in to one’s dormant arteries. All of them, disabling the circulatory system and then the heart. “Who invited the Sclerotics to this party?” Nobody, they just show up like termites. Come to think of it, he died the day we moved into our new house in 1985. That was another new normal for me: a sterile new house in PA, smelling of new paint and carpeting and a fresh grave back in Mount Comfort Cemetery, smelling of damp soil and dead flowers.
I’d walked through that cemetery countless times as a kid. We used it as a shortcut on the way to Beacon Hill stores. I wrote about setting it on fire with Chris Young in the post “Burning the Dead”. Later in my teens we ran through it at night with girls from Wilton Woods on the other end, drinking sangria. Those normals came and went quickly. And I always loved the fast pace of change. Slower is more appealing these days, however.
So odd how life unfolds, or for folks like me who don’t fold very well, wrinkles would be the more appropriate verb choice. As the years stretch out ahead of us, I’m sure there will be that day when folding and ironing out life’s wrinkles won’t be an option. And the smell of raw earth and dying flowers will hover about me, but that is not today. I’m enjoying this new old normal too much.