There Be Dragons

Eulalia Benejam Cobb (Lali)

There's not been much room in my head for writing lately.  My brain has been occupied with, a) staying warm and, b) envisaging our move away from this particular corner of my green Vermont.

The move will be to an "independent living" cottage in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).   In a CCRC, cottages huddle, like chicks with a mother hen, around a large central building that houses--in addition to progressively diminishing levels of independent living--dining halls, swimming pools, and a whole slew of "activity" rooms.  The activities in these rooms--and in the pools and trails and tennis courts--are what keeps the sun-tanned, white-haired couples featured in the brochures relentlessly smiling and perennially young.

"What?" people who know us exclaim, "you're way too young for this!"  And those who are closer and bolder predict, "You'll get old faster if you go to one of those places."

And, on the first count, they're partly right.  The average age of entry into independent living is seventy-eight, so at sixty-nine my spouse and I are being somewhat precocious.  But although I may look sixty-nine, thanks to CFS I often feel more like a frail eighty-five.

As to the second objection, I've always believed in the use-it-or-lose-it principle:  milk your goats, hang the laundry out to dry, clean out the chicken house, spread the compost, grow your own veggies, or you're bound to deteriorate.  But the fact is that, despite having done all those things, I have deteriorated.  And now I'm thinking that perhaps a different kind of life--where I don't have to garden  or cook or go to the grocery store unless I'm dying to--might remove some pressure and relieve anxiety.

Believe me, though:  in my darker moments I do worry about that second caveat, and can see myself quite clearly a year from now--stoop-backed, shuffle-gaited, old.

I thought that you would be good company as I prepare to parachute into this exotic landscape, which seen from my present altitude abounds in green pastures and waters where I may rest, but whose woods and caverns may well be crawling with monsters.

I'll be posting on this topic frequently.  You can stay safely inside the plane if you like, but cross your fingers for me as I jump out.

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