Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Room service, please!

The experience didn't quite match my expectations.

There is much in life like that, isn't there? I remember the first (and last) time I rode a ferris wheel. Never mind that I was in my 30s. Leaving the ground seems like such a foolish thing for people to do. I finally got up the nerve and climbed into that basket that insisted on rocking wildly no matter how still I sat, and then I was facing a lot of empty sky as the wheel turned and carried me upward. It was even worse when I was going backwards. At least I did it once.

Early this month I took a cruise to the Bahamas. I used to live in the Islands so that part wasn't new at all. Being on a cruise ship, though....all of that is relatively new to me. And this time I did "my thing I've never done before" by ordering room service for breakfast one morning.

I've never had enough money to do  things like that, so just the idea was extravagent to me. Have someone bring my meal to me in my room, and I can stay in my pink fluffy robe to eat breakfast? Unthinkable. But on a cruise, your food is included in the price of your ticket. As much of it as you want. Whenever or wherever you want it. Heaven.

So, we put the hanging order form on the door knob before going to bed the night before. We even specified what time we wanted it delivered in the morning. And, sure enough, a knock on the cabin door woke us, along with hot coffee and a plate of eggs and bacon. And pancakes. Plus orange juice and fresh fruit. There may even have been a bowl of cereal with milk. Don't you love it?

I took the food-laden tray from the perky young woman who delivered it, turned around, and stopped. There was no place to put it except on the bed. These cabins are tight. Doors open and one of us has to flatten against the wall. Forget getting any privacy while you're in the bathroom. There must be about 50 square feet in the entire space you get along with all the food you want. Of course, you don't spend a lot of time in your cabin on a cruise, but even still, I needed a place to lay that tray down before I dropped the whole thing on the floor.

The only flat surface available was the bed. Have you ever eaten a whole meal in bed before? Two people trying desperately not to tip the edges of the cups and bowls far enough to slosh all over the sheets, the ones we needed to sleep in later that night. Not the experience I had envisioned, that's for sure. 

There is a first time for everything, and I'm having fun seeking new adventures out each month. Aging to perfection means being willing to step outside my personal comfort zone, stretching that zone far beyond what I thought was even possible for me.

Some I have repeated. Some have become part of my life.

Room service won't be one of them.

Room service? Send up a larger room.
Groucho Marx


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just kidding.....

Life is such a kidder. 

A year ago, my life was filled with unexpected magic, marked with a new-found love of ballroom dancing and I had work that met both my creative needs and my "making a living and paying the bills" needs. And although I wasn't looking for it, romance tracked me down, sat on me long enough to get my attention, and convinced me that I could have a relationship without giving up my independence. The moon and stars had aligned perfectly in my world.

Aging to perfection has taught me many things. This lesson has been a tough one, although I should not have been taken aback.  I've been through it before. We all have. Just when you think you have everything under control, the car needs new brakes (or some other tricky mechanical part that always costs the rent money for the next two months) or the dentist looks at your X-rays and sighs way too loud. A call from your child's school brings bad news that needs to be addressed before things really spin out of control for the whole family. We sigh and forge ahead, doing the best we can, as we can.

For me, it all started to unravel around March. My dance lessons were taken away from me (along with a couple of thousand dollars that would have paid for those lessons through the end of this year), as well as a huge void where trust in someone else had resided. My work (the one that pays the bills) got so busy that my creative work was put on the back burner, along with some of my sanity. And the one who enticed me out of my single-hood fell ill last week with life-threatening issues, too soon, way too soon.

The low-grade depression is back, the one that I have lived with much of my life, the one that is now dancing with glee instead of me. The smile that had taken up center stage, not only on my face but within my soul, is pretty much gone. I can pull it out when people expect to see it, when the social occasion demands it, but it's a sad replacement for the real thing. How can it be otherwise when all that is left is sadness?

And then I remind myself: Now I CAN dance when before I was so intimidated and awkward that I wouldn't even try. I HAVE work that I love, at a time when so many have none at all. And love found me when I wasn't even looking. Nothing is promised to any of us, and I have so much.

Robert Frost said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” And it is up to us how it goes on. 

So, I choose to keep on dancing on my own terms, whenever I can. I choose to scratch my words onto the paper as best I can, whenever I can. And I choose to love as long as I can, however I can.

And I'm not kidding.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Once you embark on the road to “things you’ve never done before,” you find yourself skipping faster and faster from one new experience to the next. Kind of like Dorothy, minus the red shoes. Unless the shoes are new, too.

My journey into the realm of unique experiences began nearly two years ago, after I realized I was stuck in the mundane. And scared witless about turning 60. Since then, my life has been transformed as I learned to dance, cruised to various ports, surfed the Atlantic, and rode a motorcycle, to name just a few  once-a-month adventures.

One surprising aspect of all of this has been that I initially started out struggling to think of activities I had never tried, but once my mind (and body) finally realized I was serious, my world opened itself to the possibilities.

Last month ended with Halloween, a “holiday” I have never been particularly fond of. As a kid, it seemed my first major cold of every winter showed up around this time of year, and I had to stay home while everyone else went out begging for candy. Any costumes I had were assembled from items on hand around the house. I remember dressing like a “hobo” a few times, complete with dirty face and tattered clothes. A stick with clothes hanging on the end completed the outfit.

My all-time favorite costume was the year I transformed myself into a Boston fern, but that was hand-made, too. A store-bought outfit had always been out of the realm of my experience.

Until this year.

Halloween happened to fall on the same night a friend of mine sings in a hole in the wall bar each week, so a costume party was planned and the hobo thing is no longer politically correct, right? Without even plotting and planning a “new thing” for October, I stopped in at the costume store that popped up in a vacant store- front near my house.

For the first time in my life, I bought a Halloween costume. I transformed myself into Guinevere, complete with draping sleeves and flowing velvet train. Not only was the costume a first for me, but my escort became Lancelot for the evening. I was half of a couple, something that hasn’t been my experience often, either.

As I share this story with you, I’m cruising along the coast of Florida, with yet another new experience in the record book. They just keep coming faster and faster. But you’ll have to wait a while to hear that one.

Happy Halloween!