Saturday, March 19, 2011

Once again, I'm moving ... this is the last time, I swear!

I’m moving. This time next week I’ll be unpacking, unloading and probably upchucking. Moving, as you know if you’ve done it recently, can be stressful. As many times as I’ve relocated this past couple years you’d think I would be used to it. Think again.

As a side note I googled the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, that famous list of “stressful life events that can cause illness”. There are 43 of them on the list to be exact. I figured moving, or “change in residence” as it’s listed, would be up there with the worst of them. Look it up; losing one’s spouse is at the top of the heap, we can all understand that. Retirement isn’t as high up as I figured it should be. Obviously old Holmes and Rahe had yet to retire.

Death of a close friend? Yep, it’s pretty high too. Moving is way down toward the bottom … it’s not even as high as “sexual difficulties”. Go figure that one out. At my age I seem to be losing friends at a sickening pace but I’ve almost gotten used to having difficulties with my lack of sex. Again, the list that Holmes and Rahe developed isn’t age specific.

There are two such lists you know. One for adults and the other for the so-called non-adults. The juvenile list involves things not on the one for us grown-up people. Things such as “fathering an unwed pregnancy”, “failure of a grade in school” and “becoming a full-fledged member of a church”, important things like that are on the juvie list. Ah, well, I suppose I’m showing my age by not seeing the stress found in going to church.

I got kicked out of a church one time. Yep, true story. It happened when I was about 14 or so. There was a girl I liked as only a budding young male can like. Her name, as I remember, was Violet.

Violet attended church with her family every Sunday and I thought it would help my love-life to attend too. I sat as close to Violet as I could and I’ll admit it, I paid more attention to her than to anything else. My thought was to become friendly enough with Violet and her folks so when I asked her to go to the movies with me it would be a slam-dunk. After a few Sundays, as I was following Violet and her family out of the church the preacher stopped me and took me aside. Their religion, he explained oh, so seriously, did not hold with going to movies and I had been seen going to the movies last Friday evening. The onus was on me; do I give up movies and remain a loyal church-goer just to get near Violet or give it all up as a bad idea? That, I have to admit, is as close to Violet as I ever got.

My family wasn’t very religious but don’t get me wrong, were not anti-church. Actually in hindsight I’d say deep, serious discussions about politics, baseball, God, the weather or sometimes the best bait to use when fishing were that group’s religion. Especially during family gatherings which always involved large quantities of beer and a never-ending pinochle game. Of course I’m using the word religion in its truest sense: “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons” according to one of my internet dictionaries.
My family didn’t disallow for there being a God, you understand, or, for that matter, I suppose goddesses either. As the pinochle cards were dealt out and bid on, the talk always ranged on a never-ending ever-changing array of topics. My grandfather was good to listen to, he would start arguing one side of a given subject and before you knew it he had worked you around so you were agreeing with him only to realize he had taken the other side. A lovely man.

I wasn’t allowed to play pinochle you understand. It was adult’s only, children had to find their own entertainment. As there were a number of girl cousins I have memories of not having much of a problem with that. But we don’t need to discuss that, do we.

Where was I … oh, yeah, the stress of moving house.

Part of it comes from having to deal with the telephone people or the electric power company. I called the power company to let them know I was leaving this place and giving them my new address so they could have the meters read and make the switch over. With the telephone this can’t be no more than simply unplugging the link to one phone number and swapping it for a new one, can it? As simple as that. The power company has it tough though.

First the previous tenant of my new address has to schedule the meter reading before my request can be accepted. Then, before the change-over can be done, the meter has to be read as the place I’m leaving. The previous tenant, not being able to get into the place they are moving to, were in no hurry to have their electricity turned off and waited until the last moment to make their call. That last moment, wouldn’t you know, was too late in the week for any readers of the meter to make the effort. Plus meters can’t be read on a weekend. Stressful? Naw, just get a box of candles.
I’m very happy in finding the place I’ll soon call home. When I relocated to Tasmania, I had no idea where I wanted to end up. (For you Yanks and other flatlanders, Tasmania is one of Australia’s five states. The smallest one, it is an island down at the bottom of the contentment and is known as the state down under the Land DownUnder. Ha ha. I add that because the man I talked to at my US bank when I called to change the address on my account, had no idea where Tasmania is.)

Face it, when most moves are made it is because of school or work or to be near family, right? This time I was going where I wanted to go for no reason other than that was where I wanted to live. All that means I had nothing to say this place rather than that place. For the past six months I’ve lived in a small cottage while I searched here and there, high and low, hither and yon for the place I wanted.
I knew the cottage wasn’t that place. It’s in amongst a number of similar cottages all owned by or leased to senior citizens. I didn’t know that coming in but it wouldn’t have mattered. The plan was to stay here only while I made my search for home.

Now being a senior citizen myself I have no problem with the oldies but I don’t want to live close to them. Take the guy next door. Martin is his name and he’s a nice enough guy. He’s a little older than me and he likes to share that information every time we talk. The problem is not his age but the fact that he has simply stopped. Ever notice how some, no, most oldies give it up? I mentioned to someone while having coffee down town the other day, where I lived. Oh, he said, you’re out in God’s waiting room. Yep, that’s what it is. People who for one reason or another just stop. Satisfied to sit back and wait for things to come to an end.

Martin gets up in the morning, gets in his little red Honda and drives off. I know because I hear him. An hour or two he returns. And that’s it. He’s never outside again until the next morning. So many of these oldies are like that; television and the couch.

Not all. I play tennis three times a week with an over-70s group. Two of the players running around the court have celebrated their 90th birthday. The group had a party for them recently and had to get taxi’s to take most of us home afterward. The drink driving law in Tasmania is strict. These oldies have one thing different that the Martins of the world … they don’t know they are old.

That’s where I am. Too damn stubborn to admit that being 70-plus means it’s time to slow down. How many times have you heard someone say that being around their kids or grandkids is what keeps them young? It’s true but so is the opposite. Being around Martin has the potential of bringing me down to his age. So I’m moving.

My new home is out the road some 15km from the main highway. You know those narrow lanes that show up in the old movies set in Great Britain? Narrow strips of pavement often with tall hedges on either side and no shoulders to duck onto when traffic comes the other way? Tasmania has a lot of those.

My new house is just on the other side of a little village. There’s not much in the village; the fire station at one end, a combined petrol station/grocery store/newsagent in the middle and a pub at the other.

The pub, I was told by the estate agent, serves good food and he says there is a dance every other Friday evening. My place is about half a kilometer up the road from the pub. Now, don’t you think a short stroll home after a glass or two and a dance would be the perfect way to relieve any of the day’s stresses?

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