When Ben and I bought our charming Magnolia bungalow 24 years ago..
(That's exactly what it was called on the real estate flyer.) (It still makes me laugh.)
....we found ourselves settling into a neighborhood perfectly suited to our personalities.
We had retirees all around us.
Even in our 20's we made good neighbors for old people. You won't hear a peep out of us after 8pm.
One of the oldest old people was our neighbor Alice. I swear she had to have been at least 85 the day we moved in and she was with us for at least another 12 years after that. She was sweet as pie and as we started producing children she was never happier than when she would spot me out with the baby while she was having her daily stroll.
And the thing is, for a woman her age and limited physical strength, her daily strolls were really more like a daily marathon. She would get out with her walker at least once a day, usually twice, and steadily spend the next 30 minutes pushing that contraption up the street and back. It was truly inspirational because it did not look easy.
But Alice always had a smile on her face.
She also always had a parka on. I do not mean a jacket, or a windbreaker, or a sweatshirt, or a raincoat. I mean a parka. This was true whether it was the middle of winter or smack dab in the heart and the heat of summer. In the winter she would don some extra layers with a warm hat, a scarf, gloves and boots, but whatever the temperature the blue parka was a given.
I would stand at the window and watch Alice make her way up the street and marvel at her blue parka and wonder how she was fairing in the 75 degree heat. I was often concerned about her but she never seemed to break a sweat during her jaunts so I had to concede that she must know what made her most comfortable.
One day as I was clucking away about Alice and her parka and whether I should go check on her and do-you-think-one-of-these-days-we-are-going-to-find-her-facedown-on-the-sidewalk... Ben looked up from the television and said simply, "You know that's gonna be you, right?"
I. Was. Speechless.
Well, I never. I mean, honestly. What kind of thing is that for a man to say about his spritely young bride in the prime of her life?!
The man should be a freaking fortune teller.
Now, let's be clear. It wasn't anywhere near 75 degrees out today. In fact, it barely hit 55. But...there were people playing tennis, and children were stripping their sweatshirts off at the playground, and I passed at least one person still wearing running shorts while out for a jog. This is the Pacific Northwest, people. No one takes cold weather seriously until it hits at least the low 40's.
And I was in a parka, a wool headband and mittens. I'm pretty sure it's a slippery slope from here.
Just call me Alice.
And it's true, I did overestimate the chilliness of the temperatures today and I probably could have removed some of my layers after getting warmed up on our walk. But then what would I have done? I'd have had to carry all that stuff and that just seemed silly when it was easier to just leave it all on.
And, truth be told, I was perfectly comfortable. Cozy, you might say.
I didn't think it was too obvious that I was a bit over-dressed until a cute little boy, wearing nothing more than a long-sleeve t-shirt, approached and asked if he could pet my dog. As I started to say, "of course", I noticed his mom sort of waving him off and trying to hurry him along. Now my hearing isn't what it used to be (are you noticing a pattern?) but I could have sworn I heard that woman mumble something about "not bothering the old lady."
I really can't hear all that well.
So, I hope Ben is feeling pretty smug about his prediction lo those many years ago. Because he's the one who is stuck with me. And if I end up as much like Alice as I seem to be, I'm going to be around a loooong time.
Nice and cozy and warm.
As long as I have my parka.