I started wondering yesterday while walking home from a grocery store visit during which I was particularly cranky at what age we all start getting consistently grouchy. You know, when do we stop saying come over to my house for a backyard lawn party and start saying get off my lawn.
Because I’m convinced it happens to all of us. But why, I wonder.
Is it because we never feel perfectly good? When you’re a youngster, you might have skinned knees like my grandson Micah……
….or you might have to wear a homemade graduation cap that is too tight around your neck, like my niece Lilly…..
…..or suffer the humiliation of having to swim naked because your parents forgot your swim suit like my niece Faith…..
…..but you basically feel good. You feel like you’re going to live to be a hundred.
However, starting in the mid-50s (though it probably varies from person to person), there likely isn’t a time when there isn’t an ache in some part of your body. For me, it started in my early 40s when my neck began hurting from spending hours at the computer in the evening working on my master’s degree after spending hours at the computer making a living. It’s not a great ache, but it’s tenacious.
When we were growing up, we lived at the end of a block. We had friends in the neighborhood who lived a few houses away from ours. For reasons I never understood, there was no sidewalk on our side of the street, though there was a perfectly lovely sidewalk across the street. And our street was fairly busy. It’s true our town was small – only 10,000 folks – but the street was somewhat of a main drag from the highway heading south through town. So to get to our friends’ houses, we had two choices – walk on the busy street or walk on our neighbor’s lawn. We chose the lawn.
For many years, this caused no angst to anyone. The neighbors were our friends. My mother and the neighbor lady had coffee klatches each morning. You know, coffee klatches. What women did to communicate and bond before there was Snapchat and Starbucks. Walk through the hole in the hedge and open the neighbor’s screen door and holler, “Hellooooo. Do you have time for a cup of coffee?”
But then life happened and suddenly, when we would innocently walk to our friends’ houses, unthinkingly stepping on the lawn, the neighbors would open the front door and yell, “Get off the lawn.” I’m not sure why. There might have been a rift. They might have entered a Beautiful Lawn Contest. Their necks might have been hurting. But we took to stopping at the edge of the lawn, glancing carefully at the front door for signs of eyes peering out the little window, and then running like the dickens to the next lawn, where they didn’t care so much if we walked on their lawn.
By the way, what made me cranky at the grocery store was that the store only has one checkstand open in the morning because there are not that many shoppers at 8:30 a.m. However, if there are even 10 shoppers, and if even half of them are ready to pay, there is a line. At that point, the store managers (if they’re paying attention) call up one of the merchandise stockers to be a cashier. Except today she didn’t turn on her light. So as I walked up, I saw a long line at the one check stand that had a light on, and a short line at the checkstand at which the stocker was working. Having worked as a grocery store cashier (albeit nearly 45 years ago), I know that when the light goes off, the cashier wants to close down and go back to stocking shelves. So I dutifully got in the long line at the lit-up checkout stand.
Except others shoppers kept getting in the other lane and she kept checking them out. And it made me cranky. Which took me to the place where I started this blog post, wondering how I got so cranky. Because, you see, I’m retired. I have so much time in my day that I could stand in the checkout lane for eight hours and not miss an appointment.
So go ahead. Walk on my lawn. I’m getting a grip.