Monday, April 8, 2013

"That's Different"

AKA:  “Signs That You’re Getting Older – One of A Series – Unless You Hate It Or I Hate It In Which Case It’s ‘One and Out’”, (which would have made it my longest post title ever but it isn’t, because I moved it down to the body of the post and used “That’s Different” instead which, as a title, would tie for my second shortest.)

The Scene:  I am coming out of my bedroom, heading for the stairs on my way down to the kitchen. 

When I was younger – and more precisely throughout my life until this day – which is the reason I am writing about it – I would simply go down the stairs and I’d go to the kitchen.  A routine procedure.  Simple.  Uneventful.  Nothing to write about.  (Not always a good thing for a writer.)

Today, I found myself standing at the top of the stairs, and for the first time in my life, I felt a distinct hesitation.  There was a word echoing in my brain.  The echoing word was:


And I thought to myself,

That’s different.”  (Which, not coincidentally, is the title of this post.)

The word “stairs” had never before floated through my mind as I prepared to go down the stairs.  In fact, I never “prepared.”  I simply went down the stairs.  No longer, it would appear, is this a reflexive activity, taking me from someplace higher in my house to another place lower down. 

Suddenly, it is an uncharted adventure.  

With the advancing years – beginning, apparently, today – a formerly unconscious descent of the stairs has coalesced into a question, the question being,

“How is this going to feel?”

What we are faced with, it would seem, is the introductory moment in a “Chronicle of Change.”

Unlikely for the better.

I have corroboration concerning such experiences in the form of comedian and former SNL “regular” Dana Carvey, who, during an HBO comedy special, explained what it’s like with an aging body, describing onsetting injuries: 

“My back hurts!’’

“What happened?”

“I was taking a nap!”

“Ow!  My shoulder!

“What did you do?”

“I picked up the phone!”

To that point, I had experienced intermittent twinges and unsturdinesses going down the stairs.  But today, for the first time, I am visited by anticipatory whisperings of those possibilities.  Previously, it was, out of the bedroom and straight down the stairs.  Today, it’s out of the bedroom – pause...


Like an opera singer apprehensive of an impending high note. 

Only that’s up, and this is down. 

Why the difference? 

Over the past few weeks, I have incurred various leg-al impediments.  I turned my left ankle on a recent hike, which remains uncomfortable when I put my weight on it.  My right knee, of late, has tightened up – no explanation – and has threatened to deny support.  In addition, a continual diet of dedicated “glute work” with my gym trainer has rendered both hips residually achy.  

I need all these parts for my maneuver down the stairs.  And I am wondering how they’ll respond.

What an unwelcomish turn of events.  I tend to avoid doctors, to defer updates on my physical deterioration.  Now, that unwelcome info has infiltrated my house, meeting me “face-to-face” at the top of the stairs. 

It comes to mind during this unexpected break in the action whether I really need to go down the stairs at all, an option I had never debated before.  I just went, never once adjudicating the necessity.  It was just…boom.  Automatic.  I’d be walking into the kitchen, thinking, “That’s interesting.  I don’t even remember going down the stairs.”

Rationalizations ensue.  What is it I so badly need down there?  I don’t know.  Maybe I don’t have to go down these stairs at all.

I’d been thinking about a snack.  A handful of almonds.  I like almonds.  They make this sharp, cracking sound when you bite into them.  It’s like gnawing on a tasty tree.  Almonds are worth braving the “Challenge of the Stairs.”  Yeah.  I’m gonna get me some almonds.

Then I remember that what my dental hygienist Jane calls the “pockets” between by back teeth had gotten perilously deeper (due to – what else? – advancing years), and that whenever I am consuming my “nuts of choice”, these microscopic little almond granules wedge themselves in that area, inflicting periodontal unpleasantness, and the necessity of flossing.   

Do I really want to go downstairs, and puncture my gums? 

Unfortunately, it is too late to turn back.  My brain already said, “Almonds”, and my stomach heard “almonds”, and now the “juices” are flowing, and I’ve gotta have almonds!

Gum damage or no,

I have got to go down those stairs.

Okay, Big Guy.  It’s “Zero Hour.”  I lean heavily on the railings to help distribute my body weight.  Then, right foot up… Wait – my ankle!  Left foot up… no, wait! – my left knee!  And what about my hips!

I am pretty sure this is not going to feel good.  But I can’t just stand there.  I have to make a decision.


Right foot lifted…

And away we go.

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1 comment:

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