Ageing. An inexorable and disconcerting process. Not bad exactly (except for the part about dying sooner) and not good exactly (although perhaps there’s a modicum more patience and perspective). I had a difficult passage turning 50; birthdays since have been low-key…acceptable…a reason to spend a week in San Diego being catered to by my eldest son. I think, however, that is about to change.
I am 78. Which means…soon…80. A fact that appears to be sullying my usual sunny (just kidding) nature with just a touch of depression. It started a couple of weeks ago with the email from my former classmate, and the organizer of the class reunion, offering up the information that half of my 21 classmates have passed. Then the trip out to my old home place with the evidence that we—the house and me—are deteriorating at an increasingly rapid pace. That never makes me depressed in itself but combined with dead classmates and feeling achy in the chill of the Minnesota fall and the project I started yesterday—well, yeah, I admit to feeling melancholic today.
My aforementioned project is reviewing old diaries and journals from the 90s. The purpose is to find any travel tidbits to be used for the book and, almost more importantly, to start ridding myself of things that no one else in the family will wish to read, own, sell, or reminisce over. I’m perfectly (well, not perfectly…) healthy so while I am not projecting my eminent demise, it might be a good time to begin the tidying up of life.
Here’s the thing about the 90s—it was one hell of a difficult decade. My out-of-Albuquerque decade. My out-of-money decade. My constant-lack-of-resolve (to quit smoking, eating the wrong food, and leading a disorderly life) decade. Some of it was brilliant, for example living in San Francisco and then in San Diego near my grandchildren, and living near and being with my mom up north many of her last years. I did manage to acquire a Masters in Social Work and also survive several Minnesota winters with old cars and an ageing dog and cheap boots. I had a number of jobs, some of which were challenging and paid decently and I loved (Salvation Army homeless shelter/social worker at a nursing home) and some which were hideous (usually because I wasn’t very good at them and my bosses did not appropriately appreciate my inept good intentions).
What does any of the review and disposal of my-life-in-the-90s documentation have to do with my being depressed this cloudy Minnesota fall morning? I’m not sure…well, I am sure…it was long ago and far away and I’ll never have the time, strength, energy, desperation, or cojones to do it all again. I’m old now and I wasn’t then. That’s why.