I was playing my mandolin just like I do on most early evenings. Playing this musical instrument, which I’ve been playing since I was a child, relaxes me. On this particular evening, it was making me sad.
As I played, thoughts went through my mind that this would be the last time I’d be playing the mandolin in Westwood. The following day was moving day. I was making a change in my life and moving to Covington.
All that week, as I was boxing up my belongings, self-doubt entered my head. That self-doubt has been around since becoming older and having some health issues. It’s safer to keep things the same. Change, too often now, worries me.
Westwood has been my sense of place for the last three-plus years. I know the bus schedule and know the sidewalks that I walk down with my cane. I know the landlord and know my community. I also know it isn’t urban enough for a person who no longer drives a car.
Covington was going to be a good fit — close to an ongoing freelance job, close to restaurants and shops and my apartment is on the first floor, which means limited steps. Knowing that it should work out didn’t ease my anxiety. On that Friday night, I don’t think I slept more than a couple hours.
Saturday morning, I was up at 5 o’clock. Doing some last-minute packing, I tried not to think about what I was doing, attempted to brush off my anxiety about the move. I told myself everything was going to be fine.
Around 8 o’clock, my friend Jim showed up with his truck. My son Brandon arrived soon after. Small talk was made before we started the moving work, but I don’t remember what was said. All I can recall is hoping that my friend and my son didn’t notice the shakiness in my voice.
The first load was mostly boxes and we made quick work of it. I use the term ‘we” loosely. I wasn’t much help because of my cane. Before leaving for Covington, my landlord brought the three of us bottles of water. As we drank it, I wondered if my new landlord would be that thoughtful.
In Covington, Jim and Brandon unloaded the truck quickly, then it was back to Westwood to get the furniture. They were loading up the truck too quickly. I wasn’t in any hurry to adjust my life. I secretly wished I could take this change back.
I said goodbye to my landlord, giving her a hug. With my voice choking up, I thanked her for everything. She gave me a concerned look like she was hoping I was going to be all right.
Back in Covington, furniture was moved in alongside the boxes. I had lunch ordered in from the LaRosa’s on Madison Avenue. More small talk was made but my mind was in a fog.
And then they left. I was on my own. I had no one’s hand to hold onto.
I walked up Madison Avenue to Walgreens to get a pack of cigarettes. I noticed the sidewalks were in good shape. I noticed people said hello as I passed them by. In front of Walgreens, I noticed the bus stop that could always take me back to Cincinnati and Westwood.
I met some of my new neighbors. They welcomed me. I started to unpack a few of my boxes. Slowly, my mind stopped racing and I started to relax. I reaffirmed in my head that this was the change I needed.
I think sometimes when people get older, at least for me, the more scared they become. There’s fear that a change won’t work out and you’re be all alone to deal with it. It’s a very anxious type of feeling.
Older people have health issues, too. That’s a change we’re not looking for, but the change arrives just the same. Health issues will sooner or later lead to another type of change: death. For me, it’s not really a fear of dying but rather the fear of how it’s going to reach that point. It’s a fear of the unknown.
Accepting change and not giving into the fear associated with it is one of the biggest challenges in my current life. Too often now I have this deer-caught-in-the-headlights frame of mind and I’m constantly working on it. It doesn’t make sense to stay put in a living space when it no longer works, just like it doesn’t make sense to stop having a life because of health issues or to feel a bit sorry for one’s self because one happens to now walk with a cane.
While living one’s life, the old saying “shit happens” is true. Simply put, I just need to get on with it and live the life I have left the best way I can. For me, that means living in Covington.
On my first Saturday night there, in the early evening, I got out my mandolin and started playing. I played it while sitting on my bed. I looked out the window at my new surroundings. None of it looked familiar to me, but I realized that in the days and weeks ahead, it would.
I continued to play those songs I learned as a child. I’m no longer that child. Time passes by, and as it does, life changes. I need to always remember that fact.