When you arrive in an international school scene, it’s immediate community. You are swept up into a group and you choose how extended you wish to become but there are multiple opportunities for building connections. You have choice.
When you arrive in a new city with no instant community, no job to provide structure, and a blank canvas to begin shaping in your 60’s, it’s a different playing field. You need to start playing or painting, either one….but you can’t just sit on the sidelines.
Our shipment unpacked, our U haul adventure behind us, our couches ordered, and our new license plates set to arrive. We’ve managed first stages. Shifting furniture, managing recycling materials, purchasing a lawn mower, hanging pictures, etc. Our initial framework has kept us busy and occupied. What’s next? We’re five weeks into this…..
Two highlights from last week: We joined the Y. The YMCA in Asheville is a beehive of activity and we’ve made great use of the facility already. For me, the best part is the number of people playing basketball. Basketball has always been important to me. It defined me as a teenager in many ways. It has continued to be important in my life. I’ve played basketball everywhere I lived. I’ve played on adult teams in Vermont, Israel, and now Asheville. I’ve played pick up basketball on playgrounds and in gyms in Boston, New Delhi, and Jakarta. I love playing basketball! There’s mid-day pick up basketball for the over 55 crowd. Half court, minimal contact, basketball for those who love the game but have slowed down considerably. One guy playing is 79. He’s slower than me.
But, when I discovered a newly formed league for over 40 people was starting and I could sign up, I jumped at the opportunity.I paid my dues, but then some doubts arose. Is this too much to ask of my 63 year old frame. Anyway, I’m drafted, on a team, one of 6 teams with 8 or 9 players per team. I’m the oldest on my team……We had our first game on Tuesday night. I haven’t played full court basketball in a long time. We have black YMCA t-shirts, My team is the Nets. My take away from the first game…..over 40 is younger than over 60. I’ll enjoy my Tuesday night basketball games and mingle with the crowd, perhaps I’ll be invited out for a beer with the 40 something athletes. That is, if I can walk after those games! But, I have to say…..In the first game, I scored a few points, drained a couple of shots, made a couple of steals….the old man still has some game left in him!! Flashes of the past. I dedicated my first hoop to one of my favorite basketball mates – Dan Kerr! A short baseline jumper, right where we left off 9 years ago in Jakarta!
Another highlight……(after recovering from bball on Wednesday and Thursday) was the Friday afternoon presentation about Medicare! (Government provided Health Insurance for people over 65 in the US) Yes, I sat in a classroom for a couple of hours listening to the necessary steps to sign up for Medicare. Yes, the room was full of other 60 somethings, aging folks seeking info and clarity on managing health care. Yes, this was important and useful. Yes, this aging thing and senior citizen thing is really happening, staring us in the face.
It was classic. I wondered as I looked around the room, “Am I really as old as that person over there? Is it really Medicare time?”
For Rhona, yes (she’s 65 next month)
BUT NOT FOR ME. NO WAY….I’m playing in a basketball league with over 40 year olds…..I guarantee that noone else in that presentation was running in that full court game on Tuesday night. at 10:00 pm. No way…they were all fast asleep, I’m sure of it.
Anyway, it’s time to begin “breaking out”. We need to feed our interests, our bodies, our minds. This is a hugely important element of RETURNING. Finding our niches. With those niches comes the development of connections to fill a social niche that comes with aging.
The role of social media, of course, is hugely valuable and important along the way. Friendships around the world provide a global structure/global community. But, will that fulfill the social niche, the social structure for the day to day, week to week living?
Rhona has found a niche with a pottery studio close by. She is spending two mornings a week at the studio. It’s just around the corner from our house. This is awesome for her.
So, we’ll soon enter another phase of RETURNING, the Breaking Out phase. I wonder if that’s an official name for a phase? Anyway, it’s exciting and daunting. We’ll take it one day at a time!