Wednesday, 22 November 2006
An Elder Thanksgiving List
PRELUDE: New stages of life are most often begun in hope and joy and marked by ceremony: a wedding, the new baby's baptism or bris, dressing up for the first day of a new job. Some turn out badly; some turn out spectacularly well. A few new stages are begun in sadness, anger and even rage. But they are just as likely to turn out differently.
Once upon a time, a crabby young woman fulfilled her childhood dream to live in New York City. When she moved there in 1969, she was soon caught up in the media scene and was granted many privileges: backstage at the Fillmore East and Woodstock, regular attendance at music and film parties, acquaintance and sometimes friendship with entertainment stars of the day – a result of producing the number one radio show of the day in the Big Apple.
Later, the crabby young woman traveled on corporate media’s dime, producing network television programs with kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state. Awards were presented for some of those shows. It was a heady couple of decades, keeping a bag always packed to jet off at a moment’s notice halfway across the country or the world.
Later still, the now crabby middle-aged woman had a role in the beginning of the commercial internet, a medium that caught her fancy as nothing before. By the time she had gone to work in radio and television, the techniques of storytelling were mostly set in stone; on the internet, she was part of inventing new storytelling methods. It was thrilling.
Another decade passed, and the young turks doing the hiring on the internet weren’t interested in the Crabby Old Lady she had become. She knew she was faster, better, smarter, more knowledgeable than she had ever been. But no one cared.
Crabby Old Lady was frustrated not to be using her skills. Crabby Old Lady was also angry to be forced out for something as stupid as her age. And Crabby Old Lady was scared; so much money going out and nothing coming in.
To avoid penury Crabby Old Lady sold her home, a wrenching decision after almost four decades in her beloved Greenwich Village, and she reluctantly moved to a small town she hardly knew where living is less expensive. She wept when she left New York.
Now, six months later, Crabby Old Lady is as happy as she has ever been and has new kinds of things to be thankful for on this holiday.
- A lovely, larger home with, for the first time in her adult life, a room for overnight guests who already stop by regularly for a day or two or three.
- A room for a real library that Crabby has dreamed of having all her life.
- An ocean only two blocks away to walk beside.
- Sunrise to watch every morning from her own private deck. And stars to wonder at in the night sky. It has been decades since Crabby has lived where stars are visible.
- Sky around in all its multitude of variations. New Yorkers know nothing of sky.
- And quiet. Crabby thought waking in the night was an artifact of old age. It was only the never-ending noise in New York City.
- The start of new friendships in a new place.
- Old friendships at a distance now. How grateful Crabby is for email and cheap phone services.
- After a lifetime of writing in other people’s voices - words for other people to speak on television - Crabby has her own voice and a place to put it each day.
- Amazingly, some people are interested in what Crabby writes and this Thanksgiving, she is deeply grateful to all her readers. They make her think and laugh and teach her new things every day. Some have become cherished friends.
Compared to jetting off to exotic cities and staying in four-star hotels, these new pleasures may seem tame. Don’t you believe it. Crabby Old Lady is in a different season of her life now and this new one suits her as well as her other lives did then.