Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tekkin It Eezzee, Mon!: Dispatches from the Sunshine State II

I turned 60 years old a couple of days ago and I guess this means that I am officially in the autumn of my life. Well, put it this way - my past is now longer than my future. I guess one doesn’t want to think of it in those terms, but it is true. No sense ignoring it. The aches and pains are more prevalent than they use to be and they seem to last longer. On top of that, I am getting old man hands and feet and dry skin seems to be more of a concern. That said, I am convinced that I still have a lot of life left in me. I don’t feel 60, and I certainly don’t act 60. I hope I don’t look 60, but that might be stretching it just a bit. Yet, entering my seventh decade, I am reminded of something Proust once wrote. “We are all dead people, waiting to take up our posts.” Hmmmm. I am in no big hurry.

Now that I am retired (it has been just over a year) I am around the house a lot more than I use to be and I sometimes wonder if I am not slowly driving my wife (36 years and counting) close to the precipice. I don’t mean to do this, but she has had the house to herself for so long and now all that has changed. Virginia Ironsides, a British columnist writing about her husband as she entered her own sixties, captured the state of affairs with this appropriate bon mot. “I married him for life, not for lunch.” I wonder if Sally Ann feels this way. I am almost afraid to ask. I try to stay busy. I enjoying crafting these blog postings and I recently signed a contract for a new book on the American novelist Thomas Wolfe. I have a number of other research projects and freelance consultant jobs to keep me off the streets and it is not like I am sitting at home dreaming up ways to drive my wife crazy; although that has a certain degree of charm to it.

I spent my birthday (and the days leading up to it) here in Florida as part of our annual spring hiatus and escape from DC’s late winter doldrums. The weather here has been sunny and in the low 80s since our arrival; spring has definitely arrived here in central Florida. The azaleas have pretty much come and gone and the tree pollen forces those of us with allergies indoors even if the weather is otherwise pleasant. Nevertheless, I have tried to get out and about as much as possible, scratchy eyes and throat be damned.

We drove over to the Gulf of Mexico at Tarpon Springs so we could spend a little time on the beach. We forgot that it was spring break and the entire beach was covered by tanned bodies of every shape, size and dimension. Sally Ann did her best to look for shells but there was little room to maneuver. I chose to sit in a palm tree’s evasive shade while trying to enjoy a view of the Gulf’s aquamarine waters. Unfortunately, the undulating movement of bikinied bodies was a constant distraction. Soon, but not too soon, we retreated to the Sponge Docks along the Anclote River and enjoyed a light lunch at our favorite little Greek taverna - saganoki (more on this in an upcoming dispatch) and souvlaki and a couple of Greek beers. That evening we returned to my favorite local shrimp house for a horiatiki salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, pepperocini, Greek olives, and feta cheese doused in extra virgin olive oil), a large platter of boiled shrimp slathered in olive oil, and a couple more Greek beers. Opa!

So it was a nice way to celebrate the beginning of my geezerdom. I have much I still want to do before that final sleep. Proust might ultimately be right, but don’t be surprised if I come up AWOL. Life is too good to let it pass me by. I’m just tekkin it eezzee, mon! Cheers!

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