Stroll back through time

reading room 1This year I vowed to throw in a few blog topics that are uncomfortable to write about.  I’ve told my fellow novelists that we have to push our characters to do things we would never do. I’ve begun to do that in fiction (Yes, I killed a darling beagle in one scene). But it’s harder when writing about my life. So today’s topic is one I don’t like to talk about, namely the aches and pains that come with aging. The last thing I’m hoping for is becoming one of those elders who can only complain about her health. Still, at a certain age physical discomfort will likely affect all of us.


This week I had to return heavy books to the library on the UW campus.  I can walk and bend over, but my neck and shoulders hurt when I lift.  My husband is getting treated for lower back and hip problems, so for him walking and bending is difficult, but he can lift. We decided that it would take two of us to deliver four books back to their home.

When we arrived at the campus, the parking lot closest to the library had a sign in front — Lot Full — not what we were hoping for.  We tried the next closest lot.  The attendant there offered us free parking if we could get to the library, drop off the books, and return to our car in thirty minutes.  We synchronized our watches. Ready, set, go.

Despite our physical restrictions, something wonderful happened as we strolled.  Since we couldn’t move quickly, we took in the scenery and reminisced.  We first met (a few years back:>) at the university and had classes in the same department, though not usually at the same time.

We passed two halls where we had spent many hours in class. One — the fifth-oldest building on campus — has been renovated, but maintains enough of its former appearance that we had no trouble identifying it.

Another hall — built in 1894 and the first on campus — is in the middle of an extensive renovation and its exterior is so beautiful, it almost made us want to go back to school. Almost.

In the library we reminisced about studying there together. “It was good here.  I liked it.” (him)
“I liked everything but studying and taking tests.” (me)
“Studying was fine, but maybe not the tests.” (him)
A poster for a Native American art exhibit drew our attention.  “It’s just down the hall a ways.” (me)
“Too far away for the time we have. But we should see it. And we should come back and walk around the entire campus.” (him) “As soon as I can walk.”

Then we looked at our watches. We had just enough time to make it back to the car.

Each of us has been on the university campus since we graduated, but we’d never gone back together. Having to slow down was a good thing.  For thirty minutes, we focused on our environment and our shared past, and our physical problems faded into the background.  There’s nothing like a pleasant distraction to make your aches and pains recede.



About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in aging, friends and family, memories, personal reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Stroll back through time

  1. dkzody says:

    Terry and I also attended the same college (as the university was called back in the 60s), but we did not know one another until our last semester. We have often been back on the campus and enjoy sitting in the same corner of the student union where we originally met.

  2. Kathy Gleich says:

    Ann, time it right to return and see the cherry trees blooming in the quad; around the middle of March or so, depending on the weather. This Husky alumni went last year around lunchtime one weekday and it was like a festival with non-students of all ages joining the rushing students, all appreciating the showy beauty provided by nature and the feel of spring in the air. I take the 271 bus from Bellevue that is quick, convenient (they come about every 10 minutes) and only costs $1 each way if you have a senior card. If you go after 10 and return before 3 or so you even get to sit but when there are lots of students they rush to board, sit down and get out their cell phones and never lift their eyes to notice seniors standing so we get no deference at all!

  3. Shirley Shimada says:

    Tonight I read to my grandson who is suffering from some bug and both he and I were distracted from our respective discomforts while we read about the Jobblies, Stillwater the Panda, more Lear, about Momo and her umbrella, the ducklings, Issun Boshi, and a how dinosaurs say goodnight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s