Sunday, July 31, 2016

Plexiglass



When I was in college, my roommate and I used to go see the cinema series that was shown in the student union.  It was a nice theater and usually the films were strange and good.  We never had any trouble getting tickets though the theater was not large.  The crowd was usually a mix of students, faculty, and community members.  One night after the film, my roommate and I were standing in the lobby wondering where we wanted to go.  Somehow we got into a conversation with a couple, an "older" fellow and his young girlfriend.  I think the fellow asked us something about the film.  That conversation is still a touchstone with my friend and I.  They were hippies, and the talking was about the sort of things that hippies talk about, and in the end the "older" fellow said, "Well, we're going to go back to the house and smoke some pot and get into the hot tub. . . ."

When they were gone, my roommate and I talked for a long time about that couple.  Looking back, I wonder how old that fellow really was.  Thirty?  Thirty-five?  We wanted to be that cool when we got "old."

After thirty, people start referencing themselves as "old."  They feel it.  It is both a gaining and a losing.  At forty, the eyes begin to go and maybe there are some other issues to deal with.  That is when people usually panic and want to exercise and change their diets.

At fifty, there is a general resentment that begins to set in.

After sixty, you become a different species.  Maybe sub-species is a better term.  There are things that are just off-limits to you then.  When you talk to people in their twenties, there is a sort of plexiglass wall between you.  There are certain expectations and limits set for you.  The isolation can be jarring.
You begin to pay attention to studies.  Not studies, really, but reports of studies.  What can you expect in the short time left?  How can you be happiest and healthiest?

People, they say.  People in relationships live longer, are happier. . . .

But eventually, all relationships end.  The plexiglass wall gets thicker, harder to see through, harder to hear through.  Children drift away and spouses die.  Old people are eventually alone.  At a certain age, people just expect you to die.

My mother is eighty-five.  All her siblings have died.  All their spouses have died, too.  Her friends are all widowed.  There are health problems.  There is death.  My mother spends much of her time looking after the medical needs of others, visiting them in hospitals, driving them to medical appointments, etc.  It is what she thinks about now.  It is what is on her mind.

I am gloomy today.  I am off.  I've been looking for a trip to take the place of the scalloping adventure I won't be going on, but flights are too expensive at the last minute and hotel rooms hard to find.  I need water and raw food and exercise.  That may be what I substitute for a vacation.

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