Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

   This year, and I guess for any year, as a person, or we as a people and country have much to give thanks for. Sometimes in the heat of election rhetoric we lose that thankfulness but we need to remember that despite all the words and deeds and emotional feelings, as one very chastened journalist noted, the day after the election the sun still rose and the United States was still here. And, we can give thanks that the election is finally over!
     Personally, for me, this past year has been one of astounding change.  In fact as I walked my dog this glorious morning in Palm Springs I realized that I had literally recreated my life, re-designed it if you will and lived another lifetime, in one year.  It was as similar moving here at 70 as it was in 1969 when I returned from Peace Corps Liberia and had to become an adult at the age of 24.
     One year ago I was living in an assisted living home ... and as any senior will attest, hated every minute of it. The month before I had filed for divorce and in a week after Thanksgiving I had a court date to determine whether I would be free to move and live again wherever I wished.
     In case I achieved my freedom, I didn't want a memory of Thanksgiving at the home. So with my trusty iPhone app that could tell me which bus to take, I decided that I would go to the Los Angeles Car Show, trading walkers and wheelchairs for real cars at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Luckily for me the same bus would carry me from Alhambra, CA to the convention center in something over an hour.
     I didn't have to worry about comments about me getting into whatever car I wanted, the Convention Center was filled with guys whose families no doubt wanted them out of their hair at home so we roamed at will trying out just about any car. It was a fun day and I found that many of the women giving their spiels about the cars were flirty. We all had a good time.
     The court date of December 4th launched a whirlwind of activity! I was given my freedom, the truck keys, support and could, if I wanted, move anywhere I wished. Friends in Palm Springs knew of a condo for rent at a reasonable cost and going out to meet them and getting the owners to agree to letting me rent with my dog, signed a lease for a year.
     I chose Palm Springs for many reasons. I had been visiting there with a friend for several months and I liked the small town feel. Halloween, the things to do and see, the electric light parade, the weekly street fair but more than anything it wasn't crowded like anywhere in the Los Angeles basin.
     In the midst of getting the condo set up from scratch I flew to Portland, OR for Christmas to stay with family there. I was raised in Portland and had cousins and an aunt and friends still living there. It was the first of several trips I would take this coming year.
     I moved on January 4, 2016 struggling over many days to rebuild my life from scratch and deal with the things my wife had boxed up of mine. In a month, I had to begin again and haven't looked back. I might add though, you can't believe how much stuff you might own until its boxed up!!!
     At the end of 2015 I met a man that I had chatted with online. He was visiting from Hong Kong and staying with friends in LA. I drove from Palm Springs to meet him and we hit it off. After he left, we continued to chat online and when he invited me to visit Hong Kong in February right after Chinese New Year all I could do was look around at the boxes that filled every room and say thank you but no. He persisted saying that it was a golden opportunity to see the city without a huge hotel bill. I checked prices and finally agreed to go. However, my passport would expire in less than six months when I left but Cathay Pacific assured me I could visit just not go anywhere else in Asia. So leaving all my still packed boxes behind, I went.
     My HK friend came to visit me in early April and we both discovered there really is so much to do here that we didn't even begin to do it all. When he left I promised another visit later this year.
     At the end of April my truck was stolen here in the condo complex. So much for gates ... or keys for that matter. When the policeman came to write the report we could both look at the keys and remote hanging from a box on the bookcase. To make matters worse I had again booked a flight to Vancouver, BC in a few days so still unpacking (where did ALL the stuff come from?) I again boarded a flight to Vancouver, BC via San Francisco. I won't go into a diatribe here but SFO has to be the worst airport in the world ... well, maybe LAX is worse. Finally, delayed flights and immigration in Vancouver over, I caught the last ferry to Vancouver Island! Had a wonderful visit there and returned home to begin looking for a car to replace my stolen 13 year-old pickup truck!
     The concept of discounts seems to allude dealers in the Coachella Valley. Their discounted price is the MSRP from the manufacturer, seriously. Posting what I wanted online, the best price was from a dealer 90 minutes away but saving over $4,000 in cost and taxes was worth the drive. So I am now the owner of a glowing red Mazda CX-5! Its a great little car, has lots of wonderful new features and costs about half to own than the truck. As a friend noted, "Whoever stole it did you a favor. That thing was a beast." Of course, he was right.
     I joined an art group and we have had several shows including two that I am showing items in right now! Many, many talented artists here and I am humbled to show with them.
     I again visited Hong Kong in July ... a weather mistake. Here, where it reached 122º one day, when you go outside you can feel the juice being sucked out of you! In HK when you go outside its like someone threw a bucket of water at you. Instant sweat. Never one for heat, (yes, I know Palm Springs? Go figure) it took a few days just to be brave to go anywhere during the day ... not that it mattered much. The difference between day and night was about 5º! Still it was fun and I even got to swim in the South China Sea on Lama Island, a boat ride from HK.
     In September I attended an HOA meeting here at the complex and heard one of the board members mention that he was selling his condo, literally behind where I rent with nearly the same exact layout. Discussing this with friends, they urged me to make an offer. I did and after much soul searching and gathering funds, I made an offer and searched for a loan. When I am finally moved, the monthly bill to own will be only a bit more than what I am paying in rent.
     We sealed the deal in October and have been busy renovating the condo since. New paint, an entire new kitchen, it will hopefully be where I remain to the end of my days. What makes it very appealing is that I can walk from my front door to the departure gate at the airport in under 15 minutes! From PSP you can get connecting flights to anywhere in the world.
     My friend returned to Palm Springs in time for Halloween where we dressed up; me as a Mandarin scholar and he as a Samari soldier. We fit right in with the show downtown.  We left the next day for New Mexico to visit my sister. To him where a "small" city is 3 million, it was a shock to go to across the desert to the countryside of New Mexico, where if you blinked you would miss my sister's road! It was dark, darker than he had even seen on land.
     Yes, it has been some year. Looking back I wondered did I script this? Was this my design? Or, more likely, was it what happened and did I finally learn to go with the flow taking advantage of each new opportunity that came along? I think that it was, I finally decided to live my life, not the script that was not my own that I had had since birth.
     Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are many, many gifts in this life; all we have to do it look for them, accept them and finally, be grateful for them. There surely will be tragedy, heartbreak, despair ... that is a given or as F. Scott Peck said at the beginning of his wonderful book, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED, "Life is hard." What makes us human is what we make of everything that life throws at us.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design and art affects our lives ... and always has. 

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