Friday, September 19, 2014

waves and wrinkles

My allotted days are at an end.  At least, on this cruise.

As I was walking through the cafeteria at noon yesterday, I had an apotheosis.  I have spent the last 12 days on a floating retirement center.

Not the type of “rest home” I knew in my youth where people in their seventies were shunted off to stinky rooms furnished with beds that would do a prison proud.  I mean the type of “retirement centers” built by cities to prevent active seniors from roaming the streets with their idle hands.

You know the type of place.  (You may be reading this in one right now.)  Exercise rooms that would put a smile on Torquemada's mug.  Coffee shops serving up lattes and a heavy does of wifi to send buff photos to the great-grandkids.  And cafeterias awash with enough ethnic food to be mistaken for the lower east side -- but no spice please, we’re English.

It was not only the sea of gray heads that made me believe I had walked into the Salem senior center.  The tipping point was the parking lot of scooters walkers, and wheel chairs that cluttered the cafeteria’s entry.  And what sealed the deal were the repeated questions of the staff asking if the chili con carne was spicy.  (It was blissfully so, and conspicuously avoided by my fellow oldsters.)

Now, that may sound like a dig against the cruise.  It isn’t.  I am rather pleased that people my age and older are willing to get out of their comfort zones at home to see more of the world.

Well, see more of the world in a rather controlled environment. 

Even though my fellow passengers feel emboldened enough to saunter the streets of western France and northern Spain, they often huddle together on bus tours clutching on to one another with eyes filled with fear that someone might say something to them in a foreign language.  And always ready to say that they have something just like that back in Edmonton, or Milton Keynes, or Helena no matter how exotic it may be.

But none of that really matters.  Spending time with Patti and Ken has been an unalloyed joy.  When we started putting this trip together, we were not certain what Patti’s health would be.  With some limitations, it has been fine.  And I would not have missed a day of the trip with them.

And now, we are off to London for a few days.  By the time you read this, short of some nautical disaster, we should be disembarked, on a train, and situated in our internet-surcharge hotel.

Because everything works out well in the end, I am certain there will be more tales of wonder to share before I head home to deal with the vagaries of the closing on my new house.


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