Where I live people are incredibly friendly and helpful and funny and smart. I love it. Today I drove to “the city” (Alamosa, population 9,000) for groceries. I shop at City Market, a cousin of Ralph’s and King Soopers. I was picking up stuff I forgot when I went there on Sunday.
A few weeks ago, I was rear-ended, nearly, in the store by a large old guy in a motorized shopping cart. I said, “Guess I need brake lights.”
He said, “That’d help.” And told me some stories about his girlfriend rear-ending his truck’s trailer at a red light.
I saw him again today. He recognized me. Now this man is 70+, quite large, on oxygen but somewhere in that marginally ambulatory old guy is a cute kid. It’s weird how that happens. He stopped me and said, “Are you a platinum blond?”
I said, “No, it used to be red.”
He said, “I love redheads. Can we get engaged?”
I said, “God no. Been there, done that.” I patted his shoulder. “I’d rather die.”
“Not marriage,” he said, “just engaged.”
A woman coming up the aisle (our age group) watched the whole show and was laughing.
I don’t think of myself as a 65 year old chubby lady with white hair. In my daily life (unless I’m looking in the mirror) I’m just Martha. Sometimes I’m surprised to see a photo of myself and wonder how my Aunt Jo got in the picture. It happened today.
I have severe arthritis in my left knee but (for some reason, a little voice?) I don’t want surgery. I know that leg strength ameliorates the struggles of arthritis. I have had arthritis in that knee for 20 years and I used to run on it, no problem, back in my hiking days.
So, I have been working on strengthening my leg for three years (things take longer when you’re older) to get it back so I could at least hike hills. After all, I live in the Rocky Mountains and there are places I want to go.The biggest help is my Airdyne. This is a stationary bicycle made by Schwinn. Many bad-ass body builders think it’s torture. I don’t. I actually think it’s fun. I have a TV set up in front of it and videos of bike rides in places I would like to be, mostly high mountain rides through the Dolomites, the French Alps, the Pyrenees. One video lets me bike ride through the center of Milan, a city I love and “seeing” it, even virtually, is great and distracting. At this point I’m riding 14 “miles” in an hour and my goal is 20. I “ride” three times a week and walk the dogs all the other days. When the weather gets to the point where it stays warm, I have an actual real-life mountain bike.
I’ve always loved hiking hills. Running hills was even better. At this point in my life, if I can “hobble” up and down hills I’ll be satisfied. So far so good.
A week and a half ago my friends and I went to Penitente Canyon and there was a beautiful, muddy, snowy, rocky steep hill. I climbed it. I climbed down, too. When I was at the top, about to come down, I asked my friend to take a photo of me up there. Unfortunately, Aunt Jo showed up.
One of the discoveries of retirement has been the various realizations of what really matters to me. We do not change. What we are fundamentally remains who we are until the end, I think. My biggest source of happiness has always been getting outdoors and moving through some wild space — the deciduous forests near my childhood home in Nebraska were my first experiences. I might show up in photos as Aunt Jo, but I’m really a 13 year old kid running hell-bent through a grassy field toward a forest trail and some hard hills.