Thursday, May 11, 2017

The inflexible routines of aging

Excuse me if I digress for a moment to say how blessed I am. For part of this morning and the early afternoon, Jamie was here, nose buried in his computer. But he was here, in the same room where I was working. Tonight ten-year-old Jacob is on my couch, buried in his iPhone while I work at my computer. But he’s here. (He’s so wrapped up in whatever’s on his phone that he didn’t even blink when I took the photo above.) It brings me great joy to have them here. I don’t care that they don’t carry on conversations or pay attention to me. It’s enough that they are here with me.

Jamie’s visit caused me to reflect on how we get set into routines, particularly as we age. I think we find comfort in doing the same thing at the same time every day. I eat breakfast, such as it is, between eight and nine every morning; lunch is between eleven-thirty and twelve-thirty, and diner is sixish. Living not exactly with the Burtons but not far from them, one of the adjustments I’ve had to make is that they don’t eat dinner at six. Sometimes they don’t eat dinner until eight or later. Hard for an old lady to change.

On those treasured days when Jamie comes over from the Dallas area, we go to breakfast. The goal is always nine o’clock. This morning it was at least ten before we were settled in the restaurant, and I was so ravenous I ate a double order of corned beef hash (with a lot of ketchup). We hadn’t been home long when I looked at the clock and realized it was nearly noon. Then, suddenly, it was almost two, and Jamie had to rush back to Frisco to take one of my granddaughters to an art lesson. He literally ate leftover chicken-fried steak out of his hand as he ran out the door, and I ate a light lunch of leftover tuna salad and a bit of smoked salmon with cream cheese.

I napped, as I always do, but later than usual. See? There’s my routine again. I nap about two, read in bed for five to fifteen minutes. Today, it was almost three before I crawled in bed. I slept so hard I thought I was in bed for the night and woke with a start at four-thirty to scramble to make an appetizer for neighbor Margaret who was coming for happy hour. By five, we were on the patio, sipping wine and eating hummus that I’d topped with chopped onion, cucumber, and tomato (oops, forgot the feta).

And so I didn’t eat dinner—leftover lamb, cold, with cherry tomatoes and gherkins--until almost eight. I’m clearly off my routine—and it’s a great thing. But tonight, as usual, ten is my bedtime.

I’m not sure if routines are a good thing. I think my mind tells me flexibility is good, but my body votes for routine—with such strong votes as hunger and sleepiness. I hate to admit it’s age, but I think maybe that’s at least part of it.

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