Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Honey i shrunk my world

I see how it begins.

You don't want to drive downtown anymore, because the traffic scares you. So you stop. You still go downtown, but you take the bus. But only during the day, because at night there are scary people on the bus. And not during rush hour as it's crowded and you might have to stand.

Driving at night is difficult because you don't see well in the dark, so you stop going places at night, unless it's somewhere close with which you are familiar.

Remembering the directions to new places is hard, and so is seeing the street signs. Why don't they make them bigger? Your kids tell you to use Google Maps, but you can't figure out how. They show you, but it just never works when you try it.

Crowds annoy you. So you start planning things so as to avoid them. Go to the county fair? No way! It's hot and noisy and crowded. Plus the food is overpriced.

Hey, you can get the early bird special at Anthonys if you get there before 6:00 pm. Cool. Plus it's not dark then, or crowded. Triple score.

The other cars on the freeway are driving past you like you are standing still. Why is everyone in such a hurry? Now you don't drive on the freeway at all. It's not safe.

After a while you just stop going anywhere at night, it's just not worth getting in the car.

Next you make a mental list of the 5 places you are still comfortable going.
1) Grocery Store (plan ahead to avoid going on the weekend or after work. If you go then, all the little carts that you like are being used.)
2) Post Office (but not at noon, or after three. There's always a line then.)
3) The Mall (but only on a weekday during the middle of the day, otherwise the crowds are hideous.)
4) Mexican Restaurant just up the street (before 6pm, after that there might be a wait.)
5) Library. (It's closed on Tuesdays though, and you would never go there on the weekend.)

I watched The Mister's parents go through this process and now i am watching my parents go through it. They are still pretty adventurous, but there are two of them. I wonder how much further their world will shrink when there is only one of them. I want them to fight against this trend, but i don't know if they even see it. Maybe it's inevitable.

I want to fight against this shrinking of my world. I already hate crowds and i take the bus downtown. But that's to avoid paying for parking and to save gas. Really.


sari said...

I'm one of those people that everyone passes on the freeway when I'm driving with my kids in the car. Not so much when it's just me, but when is it just me anymore??

fiwa said...

You know what's funny is I see my older siblings doing this much more than my mom. Which I find shocking, because they used to be so cool.

What is this syndrome, exactly? Is it timidity? Laziness?

But you know - I'm catching myself playing the "it's too hot, noisy, crowded" card these days. I've sworn of Pike Place Market in the summer because of that. Is that the first step down the pathway? But if it IS only going to make me miserable to go because it's hot, noisy and crowded, what's the point? Ack!

Marshamlow said...

I do a lot of this too. I find that I go to the grocery store, mall and post office during the week days. As a stay at home mom with a little one I feel like it is a perk of the job. I find that I avoid things like fairs because I really don't like crowds, and the heat and paying that much for food. I like to go to restaraunts early because they are less crowded and I like to be in bed before 9 if I can. Am I shrinking my world? I don't think so, I mean I think I am trying to expand my world living in a new place. But, how many people do you really interact with in crowded places. You really are alone in those places, isololated. I try to expand my world by doing smaller things, volunteering, local events, saying hi to the clerk in the nearly empty store or mall etc. I feel more interaction in smaller settings. Perhaps I will end up not being able to leave my house by the time I am 80? I may just be justifying.

jen said...

now i want some mexican food.

Maggie said...

It's possible to avoid, I swear. My favorite grandmother still walks 2 to 4 miles a day. She doesn't drive much since her eye surgery, but buses to university lectures, film noir festivals, and so forth. I don't know about going out at night alone though. She's wiry and tough about those things, but may have stopped, not sure.

She told me that when they retired, she decided never to be one of those old people that goes to bed by 9 pm. She kept a goal of staying up till at least 11 if not later every night.

You can do it!

flutter said...

I kind of love cities and the pulse of them...I don't know why

Maggie said...

Oh I forgot, your blog makeover is awesome.

crazymumma said...

ooooohhhhh. nice spooky new graffitti.....from downtown? Where you do not venture? I love graffitti. There is some incredible stuff out there.


my world has totally shrunk. But I still love getting on my bike and exploring the core. alone. always alone.

Anonymous said...

It always boggles Tony and me how "booked" up my parents and his mom think their calendars are, when in reality, they are doing next to nothing.

I can already see some signs of mental aging on my part. If I could remember to jot them down, it would make a good post.

ms chica said...

The shrinking world part, I completely understand. The not wanting to drive part is actually reassuring. I wish the Mister's parents didn't want to drive. The world would be a safer place.

meno said...

sari, if you are at least going the speed limit, then that's ok. Any slower, then STEP ON IT LADY!

fiwa, i think it's a lower and lower tolerance for sensory input. I won't go to the market on a crowded summer day either.

marsha, i do it too. But i know that i still COULD go to crowded places if i needed to.

jen, there's this place right around the corner....

maggie, i think it is possible to avoid, unless you are unaware you are doing it.

flutter, i do too. Chicago, San Francisco, New York!

maggie, thank you! I had fun doing it.

crazymumma, from Japan! I go downtown all the time. On the bus.

de, my parents really are pretty busy, but it's all very planned, no spontenaity. (i can't spell that word.)

ms. chica, i approve of giving up skills you can no longer support, i just don't want to do it prematurely.

Daisy said...

I used to do all that stuff. Because after all, it's my world and what the heck are all these other people doing messing it up and crowding me?

Yeesh! Get the hell out of the way, people! I need stamps.

Can't you drivers see I have a train to catch? Stop driving so poorly!

Really, it's just easier to stay at home and avoid them all.

[Of course, now with my fabulous new job..... ! I just do my NYC power walk past them all, silly sheep!]

Cagey said...

Oh my god. OH MY GOD. You have stopped me cold.

My mom is going through this Shrinking of Her World and it really makes me angry that I always, ALWAYS have to drive to her house. She seems so young and frankly, I blamed it on other things - not her getting older. She is only 57, which seems young, but maybe. I don't know what to make of your post now. Maybe I AM too hard on my mother. Gee, who knew?

Schmoopie said...

Seattle is one of the worst places to try to find affordable parking. One must always take the bus downtown. Plus, everyone can drink and not have to worry about driving home.

Everyone who is smart will "shrink their world." Live where you work, and work where you live. Spend your money in your own community, to support local small business. It saves time, money and damage to the environment.

However, you should keep a sense of adventure, which I see you doing for a very long time.

Mama P said...

I thought that was you until you said it was the in-laws and your parents. Oh, Meno, face it, you do not like crowds. It doesn't mean you are going to close out your world. It's a mind thing. You have a very open one.

luckyzmom said...

I love hot, noisy and crowded. When I worked at Luckys on 3rd Ave in Seattle 33 years ago I was able to park my little Datsun in the basement garage or the cost of parking would have taken up my whole paycheck. And now there's the ridiculous climb in gas prices.

Which is totally beside the point you were making. And to that I would say that it is easier to make excuses. So, don't start.

There's really nothing you can do about that night vision thingy is there? I had a roommate once (a long long time ago) who had it when she was only about 30.

Gina said...

You've just described 80% of my small town, regardless of age. It depresses me.

Diane Mandy said...

My folks are still very young at heart. A few years ago they adopted another I am a 40 year old woman with a 5 year old sister. I hope she is able to keep their world from shrinking!

furiousBall said...

i fight that same introversion and fear of the unknown. i find that alcohol and prescription medication taken incorrectly helps immensely

Tink said...

On the flip side, Hoop's Grandma still drives everywhere and she SHOULDN'T. Each time she takes the car out she comes back with a new dent or scrape and can't seem to remember where she got it. Scary stuff.

QT said...

LOVE the new header!

I think it all depends on how we see ourselves interacting with the outside world - are we the "drivers"? Hating crowds is an admirable trait in my book - you don't have to go downtown to be adventurous, especially when you have a few mountain ranges around you to hike through.

TTQ said...

yeah my *ahem* parents are going through the same things. Ok Ok it's me really. So much so that an SUV is sounding like a good choice because I never drive anywhere..

meno said...

daisy, ah, it's good to hear you sounding cocky!

cagey, 57? Does she have medical issues? Because that is really young. I wonder why she is doing that. I want to avoid it as long as possible.

schmoops, i always take the bus downtown. God, i love it! So much easier and cheaper.

mamap, no, i have never liked crowds, but i still do things i want to do, even if there is a crowd.

luckyzmom, i have never even heard of Luckys. Was it a department store?

gina, it depresses me too. Time to move??

diane, i love your folks! That's awesome.

furious, don't i know it!

tink, that is scary. Might be time for an intervention.

qt, Thank you! I agree about being adventurous. But my parent's definition of crowd keeps expanding to include less and less people.

ttq, how about a bicycle? It will be much cheaper to not take anywhere.

sari said...

Meno, I'm definitely going at least the speed limit!!


PS I like your new header, it's really cool. Did you take that photo? (I didn't read the rest of the comments, if you already said so, sorry about that!)

sari said...

OH, I just saw, Japan! Very cool, I really love it.

Cheesy said...

I kind of like my little world but thankfully I still enjoy adventures....

Lynn said...

I think that as we get older, we develop a better sense of how dangerous the world can be. When people are younger, they often feel that they are we age, we realize that we aren't. Still, it is sad to watch our parents world shrink...and sometimes our world too:~(

Vanessa said...

Hey now, I really love those little carts at the grocery store! ;-)

The Real Mother Hen said...

I find myself nodding while reading this... and I'm only in my 30s! My world is shrinking so much that whenever I turn, I see only myself.

meno said...

sari, oh good! I'm glad i don't have to do a spped limit intervention. The picture was taken in Kobe. I thought the graffitti was haunting.

cheesy, i like my little world too, but i want to be able to step out of it when i want.

lynn, that could be part of it, but i see my parents compensating for their diminishing abilities. So it make sense, but it scares me too.

vanessa, oh totally, i use them all the time.

mother hen, scary isn't it. Makes me more aware of what i am doing to myself.

luckyzmom said...

It was a restuarant, a block south of Pike on Union. I was a dinner cook there.

luckyzmom said...

Where Benaro ya Hall is now (what is that?) or between Seneca and Spring? My husband worked at Seattle City Light, so I was consulting him, and we are both unsure. The last time we drove past it was about 8-10 years ago and a music store was there.

Franki said...

I already do all these things and I'm not even 40. Except the mall. Never, under any circumstances, do I go to the mall. I'm a curmudgeon.

Say It said...

crap, according to this list, I will be a hermit by the time I'm a grandparent. I already avoid crowds, lines, the post office, mall and the night driving is becoming a hassle. I'm not even old yet!!

meno said...

luckyzmom, Benaroya is a beautiful performance hall. It has a HUGE built-in pipe organ. I have never heard of Luckys. How sad.

franki, in my opinion, every mall is a Hellmouth (a reference from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) so i'm with you on that.

say it, i do much of it too, but i want to be aware of what i am doing.

Clowncar said...

Great post. Insightful. You just described my Mom to a t.

If I didn't have my family and job to tether me to reality I'd probably spend my days camping in the back yard with my telescope and a big stac kof books.

I guess a radio too. For baseball games.

tt said...

You just described my week at the parentals!! Of course it's much more detailed than that but you nailed it.
I really think that as we age we just get tired of all the shit that's out there and just don't want to deal with it anymore. The comfort zone is at home when you're old. Of course in my case the parentals are legally blind so they are real limited in what they can do anyway...
I know, if I'm lucky I'll age, but i hope i don't get old.