Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reflections on Aging and Grocery Shopping

In the dream, Lee and I are proper as well as dapper old ladies, well dressed in panty hose and pleated all the way around Pendleton skirts, walking along Mountain Blvd. in front of our Montclair neighborhood grocery store, Lucky’s.  We walk slowly, but we are not bent over. What is so puzzling is that we are carrying a loaded old-fashioned brown shopping bag, the kind with the twisted brown handles.  Each of us has one handle, the bag hanging down in the middle between us. We are smiling softly at each other, equally sharing the load.  There is nothing more to the dream except that detailed vision. There never was.  I can see in my memory the exact spot on the sidewalk where we stood, and indeed, it still exists, but five decades of progress has certainly changed the neighborhood.

 Now it is fifty-three years later, and Lee does not exist, except in tender memory.  Reflecting on our lifetimes together I can say that we always shared the load. Why was the dream so vivid at the time?  For one thing, I was a bit of a prude from Washington State.  I viewed carrying a shopping bag as vulgar, even as going to the pizza parlor without hat and gloves suggested impropriety. Quite honestly, I would not have been caught dead carrying a brown paper shopping bag.  Likewise, it would have been totally out of character for Lee to allow me to tote any physical load; her superior muscles and pride would hardly allow it..

As a child, raised mostly by a loving single father, grocery shopping was my daily chore, for we had no car, and no refrigerator. After school I hopped on my blue Elgin bike and wheeled to Miller’s Little Store, four blocks away.  It was my delight to choose and cook food for dinner each night.  This chore I accomplished with glee, for I usually treated myself to a lime popsicle for the ride home, except when I chose orange.

Now days what was once a delight is a burden, boring and annoying.  I procrastinate at shopping until the kitchen shelves are bare, putting off shopping at my neighborhood Safeway until I’m down to crackers and cheese, occasionally moldy. The clerks know me by name, usually calling for help with take-out even before I ask. My lovely new car sits in the carport gathering dust.  I drive Lee’s old ’89 pickup to Safeway, and pick up Chinese at the same time.  What?  You think I’d park anywhere within blocks of those dim witted, myopic seniors who tote brown shopping bags and dress in old sweats?


Post script on last week’s blog: On seeing the new car for the first time last Sunday, Catherine said it was sexy.  Then Sandy Delehanty from Loomis stayed with me last night.  Her comment on seeing the addition in the carport: “Bonnie, it’s beautiful.”  Then she added, “Jac in France would say it is a chic magnet.”  Imagine!  Now I am approaching 80 and have a new car that scares me to drive, and is judged by my friends variously as HOT, SEXY, BEAUTIFUL and a CHIC MAGNENT. What is my world coming to?




Thursday, May 20, 2010

Decision Made!

 A problem is a decision not yet made, as the saying goes.  So, after countless test “sits” in new and used cars to find the best fit for my old back, I decided on a new Chevie Malibu sedan.  The back seat is for Kodi, of course. 

In the end it was the color that swayed me (remember I’m still grieving over my lost lavender Camry).  The color of the new addition is called diamond white, but it looks like a shimmering abalone shell.  I call her “Pearlie”. 

Debbie, my dog walker, on seeing the new car in the driveway, announced: “Bonnie, I saw your new car….It’s HOT!” I’m not quite sure how to take that.  Does it mean the younger world approves of my wild investment? Or does it mean I’m acting like a ridiculous old hag in her second childhood?  Hmm….

Am I passionate about it?  Well, not yet, for I’m still struggling with all the bells and whistles.  I hope this will come. The odometer showed 148 miles as I returned from Sunnyvale at 3pm today, nerves slightly jangling.  I don’t think I breathed deeply the whole way.  . 

 Needing groceries, I switched to the old pickup for my trek to Safeway.  I don’t want anyone backing into me the first week, anyway!  Maybe I’m not quite ready for a new identity.

More likely, I’ll be a split personality until the new car smell wears off. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lavender's Blue, but not Dilly Dilly

Lavender’s Blue, but not Dilly Dilly.

Coming around a quiet bend on Skyline Boulevard near my home last week, I crashed into a car stopped dead in the lane ahead of me.  I totaled my beloved ’98 lavender Camry. The driver of the other car appeared lost and confused. He said he stopped at a stop sign, although there are no stop signs nearby.  I hope he is ok. The kindness of a UPS driver/witness, the police, the fire and ambulance drivers and friends has been a source of great comfort to me. 

All the new cars that I can afford seem tacky to me; certainly none to stroke my artistic sense.  From a dream I had over thirty years ago, I came to realize that in my own unconscious my car is ME. Is that true for anyone else?  This dream, in fact, is what led me into abandoning teaching and becoming a psychotherapist. 

Analytically speaking, the psychological implications of making this transition to a new car for me are myriad. For instance, new models are safer but built of much weaker “bones”; the colors are bland and boring; they hang lower to the ground, and their interiors are mostly plastic, though made to look like the real thing. The trunk compartments seem so much smaller.  Their whole design seems to center around safety and better mileage. They do not invite treks to the desert, mountain climbing, rock hounding, and other adventures.  Even the spare tires are a phony of the real thing.  Besides that, Kodi will not recognize the motor of a new car, for he came home as a wee pup in the Camry nine years ago. 

I fervently hope none of the above is my destiny. I think I’m not quite ready for the wrecking yard, though I admit physically most of me hangs low, and lacks vigor and spunk. I think I’m boring, but I try to not be phony. Perhaps I can find some passion somewhere.  Keep tuned.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Second to Chunky Monkey

When the big freeze happened here in the hills in the late 70's, we were without power for ten days. On several of those fridgid days the temperature got down to NINE.  Yes, NINE!  We survived, but most of the exotic tropical plants in the yard and poolhouse did not.   The large lemon tree dissolved. The 1,000 plus collection of temperature/humidity controlled orchids in the greenhouse, which had come with the house purchase, turned to mush, and no wonder.  
For a while I took solace in the large rose garden.  Then, about fifteen years ago my friends Stacey and Andrea invited us to an excursion to an iris garden in San Jose.  What was an iris, I wondered?  Surprise, for I was soon to add another addiction to my collection.  I think I bought three bulbs that first day.  Since then I have expanded my pleasures to about 75 clumps, and visited eight iris gardens.  My computer overflows with iris photos, and my house walls sport eight framed iris paintings.  My painting storage drawers are stuffed with fifteen or twenty more, not counting the ones I have sold.  This week there are about fifty blossoms still strutting their bearded faces.  In another two weeks, however, they will hibernate till next spring, and I will either have to find a new indulgence, or go back to ice cream.  
The photo at the top is one of the current smile producers.