Fall is easy to write about: the colors, especially. Here in Northern Michigan it also means getting ready for winter: putting outdoor furniture away, scheduling annual furnace maintenance, trimming the gardens, moving snow boots from the basement to the closet near the front door, hanging the ghost on the front porch, etc.
It also means, for me, dancing between cyclical time and linear time. When I was teaching, the fall season meant a beginning, with new students and a return to The Odyssey. Time was cyclical, moving toward June, a summer pause, and then the cycle would repeat. Cyclical time was cool because I never got any older.
But now, in retirement, I have moved back into linear time. The arrow is moving in one direction, and we know what that is. It’s no wonder that the season is called “fall.” So, as we put our summer stuff away, Kim and I wonder where we might be living in April, especially if one of us takes a fall. We put stuff away for the winter, in preparation for next summer, but we also move stuff into our perpetual garage sale, a one-way linear move out the door.
This all came to mind when we watched the first episode of “The Golden Bachelor” on television. I suspect my readers are far too intellectual to watch such crap, but not us. It’s a reboot of a show where a guy in his 20s or 30s meets a couple of dozen women and goes through a weekly process of eliminating them from contention, ending up with one who is awarded “the final rose” and, in most cases, engagement. “The Golden Bachelor” has the guy, at age 72, meet a flock of rather desperate-seeming women over 60. (Reminds me of a joke Peter told me: A man in Miami runs into an old lady friend. She asks him where he’s been – she hasn’t seen him for years. He tells her he was in prison for 30 years, for murdering his wife. Her response: “So, you’re single?”) And they are about to go through the same weekly process of strained conversations, some far-too-early kissing, and then elimination. The first episode emphasized, in my opinion, some floozy-style dressing and strained sexual invitations.
So, I got to wondering, what if the guy were 82 instead of 72? For one thing, he probably wouldn’t be able to remember any of the women’s names. And he might get lost on his way to “The Bachelor Mansion” where the women are staying (some, only briefly), where they have cocktail party conversations, and where the eliminations take place. The sexual flirtation would have to be dialed back (the old comparison to “shooting pool with a rope” comes to mind), and instead of describing past relationships, they would be comparing their physical ailments. The bonding adventures involving, say, parachutes or kayaks, would be replaced by the adventure of finding where you parked your car, or maybe getting out of your car. I had some ideas about who might sponsor such a program – folks selling hearing aids, walkers, pills, etc. – but then I thought that young people might watch it for laughs. The old guy would probably need some help getting dressed, which might make for an amusing episode, as I know about first-hand. If his socks match and his shirt is either tucked in or not – but not both – and he can find his shoes, he’s good to go. How the woman helps him dress can lead to the decision whether to keep her or dump her. This is life in linear time.
Meanwhile, Kim, despite her cancer, is firmly moving in cyclical time. In the last week she planted over 100 bulbs, in anticipation of spring, and we planted a small crab apple tree, moved some rocks, and planted some bushes (they have a name, I believe, but I don’t recall it) to make it a garden. We are being realistic as we keep looking for housing if we happen to get old someday, and we do have those “if you die first / if I die first” conversations. Our sense of the future extends maybe five years, though that is renegotiable. But our daily life together is largely cyclical, in my case governed by my habits (make the bed after breakfast, mid-morning coffee time, time to get the mail, blog day is Thursday, evening movie time with water or a drink around 9, etc.). I know habits aren’t supposed to be good for you, but I like the way they, like Kim’s gardening, help nudge me into cyclical time. Bring on the fall!