Were You Always Like This?
I’ve gotten a lot of odd questions on tours, and received a ton of information about folks’ personal lives. Something about what I do opens people up to discuss their parents’ or children’s deaths. Or the intimate details of their marriages. The list is endless but the oddest question I ever received was today’s “Were you always like this?”
“Was I always like what?” I asked escorting a crowd through a parade thinking did she mean was I always walking people through a parade?
She responded “Were you always extroverted, charismatic and telling stories?” Since my mind was in zillion places during Operation Herd Cats across the parade route I went for the simple answer explaining how I had started a writing company that I ran for two decades. However, the writing was technical, marketing or scientific. For example my employees wrote the boxes inhalers came in for Glaxo, the web site for the Heart Association or technical releases for Cisco modems on their web site.
Afterwards I pondered the question more deeply and knew that wasn’t really what she asking as I approached my seventh year of living in San Miguel. Seven years is a long time, what sociologists consider a generation and like with every new generation things change. No one is the same person they were seven years ago, unless you were dead at both points. Even then, I’ve always assumed most of the thoughts one had while living radically change with the transition to death and the acquisition of a larger world-view.
For me, arriving in town was the first time in my adult life without being responsible for others. My elderly parents had passed and my kids were grown and off on their own adventures. I sold the company and struck a deal where I didn’t have to serve as a “consultant” afterwards. I always felt when you sold your corporate baby it was best to step aside totally, hence I had no clients, vendors or employees to feed and maintain either.
Truly all I had was 14 pounds of fluffy dog that I could, in theory, ignore for days and he’d still consider me a God.
When I first arrived in San Miguel I unintentionally followed Jane Fonda’s advice on aging and got to know my parents deeper. When young I was always working and going to school. Once done with that I was running the company and being a single parent. Basically, always occupied, or more astutely put, preoccupied.
Once retired I thought more about my parents. It drove a college era pal to distraction because “You are always mentioning your parents”. Honestly, that’s because it was the first time in my adult life, without the company or child rearing, I could think about them. And let’s face facts, no apple falls far from the tree.
“Were you always like this?” led me to another thought, namely that I was always curious about what was going on around me. I remember, when I was ten, interviewing folks that rented apartments in the old farmhouse in the middle of my 1970s suburban track housing. Not for a school project or grade, but I was curious why there was an 1890s era farmhouse beside homes with avocado toilets and orange shag carpeting
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but who cares? It was just a cat. If curiosity keeps me mentally nimble as I slide towards the senior years I’m all for it. Picking up new tidbits every day makes one a fun lunch companion if nothing else.
Who I was seven years ago isn’t who I am now. I’d have never foreseen I’d be writing best sellers on San Miguel or become the town’s top ranked private tour guide. Much less dancing several hours a day and we all know no one can be discontent while dancing. Toss in walking said dog, and every day is more fun than any I ever had.
Seven years from now I may be doing something I can’t see now though, hopefully, not dead just yet. My point is sometimes it is best to keep your inherent qualities to enjoy the ride knowing that on some level, you were always were just like you are today.