I play Russian Roulette. It’s not the kind where you put a bullet in a gun, rotate the cylinder and pull the trigger, all the while swilling bad Vodka and ambivalent about the outcome. And it’s not like the grim scene from the “The Deer Hunter,” that still hangs in my mind, set during the Vietnam War, where Robert De Niro dances on the edge of despair. No, mine is much more benign. I play a game of chance in the University of Minnesota Duluth’s parking lots.
The door swings open. The low-slung, wine-colored Tesla is at rest deep in the shadows of the garage. The soft, supple leather welcomes my posterior by starting a fan underneath my derriere, cooling it on a warm summer day. The car knows I'm here. It positions my arms and legs in a way that ensures appropriate accommodation, it's memory flawless. The glass roof slides back effortlessly, the headrest rises to cradle my head. I push the stalk on the column to engage drive, glide from the darkened garage and spring down the driveway, a subtle awareness has come to life.
Christmas comes and goes. Families gather, interactions warm, sometimes rewarding and occasionally conflicted, and kids go nuts.
"Don't make old people MAD. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to tick us off." This sign caught my eye recently in an appliance parts store as I tried to make sense of a home repair. As they say, "The road to perdition is paved with good intentions!" The sign was spot on, especially when the project went south.
“What the . . .!” No, this not an emergent language from the tech world or popular culture. It’s not even a slip of the tongue. Rather it’s a response to the insult of aging.
The alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. In a home where there are two bathrooms, only one with a shower, don’t screw around with the schedule or someone will be banging on the door. If cold water comes out of a shower because someone overstayed their allotted time, it will make anyone grouchy. If you are in a rush, as happens most mornings, the Cheerios, bagels or whole wheat toast better be where it’s supposed to be. Heaven forbid if little Johnny doesn’t get his strawberry-laced cream cheese.
My kids used to watch a TV show called "Home Improvement." I'm not much of a TV watcher, but one night they yelled at me to come in and watch a part of the show called "Tool Time." I was reminded of some of my own "Tool Times." Refurbishing any house is not without hazard. Making it more livable involves a level of commitment not unlike a marriage. There's the romantic phase, years of building and remodeling, occasional disillusionment with results and then accommodation.
Settling into a new home takes an inordinate amount of time. There are a LOT of boxes to unpack. The placement of a couch, chairs and lamps leads to lengthy negotiations involving light, space and individual preference, the most important discussion having to do with where to put that first cup of coffee in the morning while reading the paper.
If things can be done simply, it is best to proceed with efficiency and directness, otherwise details get in the way and problems multiply. What should be fairly straightforward ends up multi-layered and convoluted. Let’s talk moving, relocating or repositioning - whatever. Moving across a continent is a lot cleaner process than relocating three hours away.
“I’m gonna go see my shrink today.” “Yeah, you definitely need your head examined.” The work of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists is mysterious to many. It engenders fear and hostility and sometimes reflects an older understanding of the therapeutic process, one that reduces people to causes and symptoms rather than a cooperative effort at returning to a productive life.