The loudest motorcycle is the seldom the fastest.
“I met a traveler from an antique land. . . “
When I read Shelley’s immortal words years ago, I realized I was, even then, “a traveler.” Perhaps not “from an antique land” but someone who yearns to see what is on the other side of the hill.
And it fit, the description “traveler”, because by the time I heard the word “traveler,” I had traveled many times from the nest in Helena to exotica like Seattle, Canada, even Alaska.
But now the time has come to further define “traveler.” As with everything there are flavors. My flavor is “in-between-er.”
I am not opposed to seeing the sites. After all, a trip to London and not seeing Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery and a host of others is lunacy. But when on a tour of such sights, walking or on a Hop-On, Hop-Off, I am always interested in what is “in-between” the big sites.
I confess I like seeing how real people live and work in foreign cities.
A road crew patching a street, a police car, the old man ordering in the Fish and Chip shop, matrons streaming into Selfridges, Euston Underground with suits and briefcases, tweedy book stores with tweedy people, workers on the sidewalk outside the pub sharing their day, small (and large) restaurants not in any guidebook, especially those recommended by a hotel clerk or a cop on the street, and on and on. I love seeing things that real people use every day to prosper, relax and survive.
As many know, I love grocery stores. The unfamiliar labels, delis filled with sausages, meat pies and curious salads, the fresh produce, beer, wine, breads – all have me looking and usually buying.
But the people in the store buying food for supper, a special celebration, a national fete, fascinate me. Harried homemakers; husbands on assignment for a special ingredient – evaluating whether this is what Jane wanted for that special dish; teenage toughs – tattoos and funny hairdos; workers looking a quick lunch; grandma with the grand-kids in tow – all searching, looking for the right food and bargains.
This is real life! This is now real people live. This is life “in-between” the monuments.
So let me out, let me walk, let me enjoy the noise, the smells, the hustle and bustle of a city street in ______________ (fill in the blank)
I’ll see you back at the hotel!
It is a strange time in my life.
For the first time (a notion perhaps aided by a failing memory), I find myself subject to circumstance and inevitably.
Choice retreats, only acceptance remains.
Getting old is a curious thing. I really can’t recommend it but if you insist, here are some things I noticed.
First, it creeps up on you, like fog, with little cat feet. At least for me, the last several years have produced no defining moment that screams “You’re old!” But suddenly I am.
Second, when age gets here, it is all around. For example, I used to grocery shop like everyone, after work, on the weekends, before big holidays. Now I can go during the day, mostly looking for something for lunch. At the store, I am surrounded by old people, people with walkers, canes, riding those little carts. Old people, attended by younger women, shop languidly in the rows.
On the way home I see old Buicks driven by old men. I see lots of cars driven by old women with even older men as passengers. There are lots of lovingly restored ’57 Chevys, driven by old men.
Third, the known world is slowly dying. It is interesting to note anecdotally the number of famous people, movie stars, rock stars, politicians, and other worthies that die in their late 60s, early 70s. The paper is full of obituaries and we remember when they were young and vital, making the headlines, the impossible catch, the great discovery, for that song that meant so much.
But, fourth, my world is slowly collapsing around me. Things that were once doable, now present endless challenges. The world contributes much to this – it seems that everywhere we are confronted by crazy people.
But much of the smallness of my world is self-inflicted. I give up too easy. I wait to do something tomorrow or next week, month or year. I concentrate on a small number of things, the study of French and German mostly but often even these are only time fillers.
Even the realization that I am in the fourth quarter or even overtime, it is not enough to move me.
Many manufacturers of food products have been reducing the amount of food product in a package while keeping the size of the package the same. E.g. a package of cookies originally designed for a dozen cookies now contains ten or even eight cookies. Mind you, the package declares the correct net weight, but the package dimensions have stayed the same.
A shake of the package will reveal loose contents. One might even refer to them as “rattle-prods.”
I’m a little surprised that no one has come up with blowing more air into the product or packaging to reduce the rattle. A little hot air would make the packaging consistent with today’s American society.
Je ne suis pas encore fini.
From time to time, I have to walk five+ miles to reconfirm I am too old to walk five+ miles.
Taking a break.