|Me, Leo, and one of his toys at Avellino's|
When we first arrived here in April 2008, I knew no one except my husband. We moved into the apartment complex where we still reside, and I began to develop my day's routine. The first two things I did were to join the YMCA and get myself a bus pass. I am very fortunate to have these two wonderful resources; the Y has a full activity schedule, and I take maximum advantage of the classes and the exercise equipment. And the buses. As a senior, I can buy an unlimited pass for three months, which takes me from the Canadian border all the way south to Mt. Vernon, if I wish. All for $35 (half price). Although I have a car and use it regularly, I would much rather take a bus because of the social aspect and economy.
There are so many coffee shops in Bellingham that I first began to have a morning latte at the downtown Starbucks before my exercise class at 9:00am. But it wasn't quite the right place, and I asked the barrista if she knew of any coffee shops that had the old pull-the-handle type of espresso machine, and she directed me to Avellino's, just down the street. That's where I met Leo and his dad, my fisherman friend Gene, and another friend Bob. I arrive just before 8:00am and order my usual, and everyone arrives one at a time. There is free wifi, so I usually open my iPad until someone shows up and we start a conversation. Sometimes I am reluctant to leave at 8:45 for my class. Leo knows I will play with him or read to him, and he always opens the door for me to leave with an admonition to watch out for wooly mammoths or snakes, or some such thing. I leave, smiling, and walk to the Y.
I met my friend Judy a few years ago at exercise class. We went out for coffee afterwards, and it started our friendship outside of the Y. I have watched as her son and daughter-in-law went from having no children to two twin girls and a single daughter. These grandchildren are the light of Judy's life, and I enjoy hearing about them and seeing pictures on Facebook. Judy is my movie partner, as we both are married to men who are not interested in most of the movies that appeal to us. We share books and have dinner together occasionally.
I joined the Senior Center so that I could participate in the Thursday hikes it sponsors. I have been going out with the Senior Trailblazers for over four years, and now I not only know all the regulars quite well, I am also very knowledgeable about the different hikes in the area. In the summer we carpool up to the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area, a drive of about an hour, spend four or five hours in the wilderness, and drive home. This makes for lots of time together, and I know these people very well now, as they do me. All one has to do is show up, and as the years pass people come and go. At our age, there are often medical issues that keep us away, and sometimes an injury or illness will interfere with our ability to hike. The Center has easier hikes available also, and sometimes people will migrate to another group, and I miss their company.
Two of the women from the Trailblazers encouraged me to join them with the Fairhaven walking group at 8:00am on Saturday mornings. I was at first a sometime attendee, because the woman who leads this group, Cindy, is a retired race walker and we set a blistering pace of around four miles an hour for anywhere from four to six miles. At first I was lagging at the back of the pack, but now I'm much faster, walking as fast as I can go, sometimes having to take a few running steps. Yesterday, one of the women in this group asked me to have coffee with her, so we will meet on Wednesday for an early lunch. Another new friend.
The weather wasn't conducive to skydiving yesterday, but today looks much better, so I'll head down to Snohomish to join my friend Linny to get my knees in the breeze, fly my canopy around and hopefully make some fun jumps before heading back north to Bellingham. When I was in Colorado, I couldn't show up at the Drop Zone before being pulled in to help teach some newbie, and although I was willing, it's nice to have that part of my career behind me. All I do now is play; after all, I'm retired. Sort of.
Yes, a full life indeed, with a very full contingent of friends, some of whom I consider to be close friends. My sister Norma Jean and I also talk on video chat at least once a week, and our lives are intimately intertwined. If social activity, along with exercise, keeps a person happy, I think I've got that covered. Looking at my life like this, thinking of how I got to this place, I am filled with wonder at how it's come about. I chose this town, and now it's hard for me to walk down the street and not see someone I know. And then there's the rock-solid relationship with Smart Guy. We spend some time every day together, but our lives are actually quite separate. I'm a social animal (obviously), and he prefers to spend time alone, with me and my full life giving him just about all the social interaction he requires. He does have interests outside of the home, but they are different from mine.
And then there's blogging. I write here once a week, my Sunday morning meditation, and I write in my other blog three times a week, usually. I follow more than a hundred blogs, which takes up time every day and provides intellectual stimulation. My blogging friends are another universe of social activity, and I care so much about all of you. Your lives and your concerns are mine, too. My heart is filled with gratitude for the life I often take for granted. Right now, however, I can give thanks for it all. And thank YOU as well. Blessings of the season to you and yours, until we meet again next week.