Article & photos by Jack Olson
Sometimes a feisty creature, out of sorts, requires a more amenable habitat. It may no longer fit the environs where it has so long existed. Sometimes this otherwise noble creature needs a change of scenery. Official guardians of the peace might be forced to employ traps. In extreme cases, the innocent mammal is, as they say in the wildlife department, “put down”. Taken out. Kaput. Eradicated. On the wrong side of the flower bed.
But just suppose, and this might be a stretch, that the astute creature realizes that his comfortable sanctuary no longer fits his aging needs. Some impertinent members of his species have even referred to it as a “dump”. You’ll agree this remark was uncalled for, but it did have a sort of familiar ring to it.
So, rather than wait for the authorities to roust him out, remove him feet first, as it were, he hightails it. He has occupied his cave, his territory, for decades and he hardly knows where to start. He has survived in this corner of the forest for over half his natural life, happy, undisturbed. But stumbling up and down that mountain to obtain sustenance, companionship, even finding balms for his aching limbs has become more difficult by the year.
What if this creature were, for example, me?
About three years ago I signed up on a list to move to a new apartment, one with elevators and a laundry room on every floor. My recreation center was across the street. Good friends lived even closer than before. I began stuffing boxes, paring 150,000 slides down to something over 100,000, ruthlessly tossing and sometimes donating formerly precious items. I waited for the call to move. And waited. And waited. You notice I said that was three years ago.
As years pass you can kind of forget that this move will occur in your lifetime. It’s easy to resume your old habits and routines. Who needed those slides anyway? I hope Goodwill is happy with the wooden skis. That cowboy hat? Worn once, maybe twice. Perhaps those magazines covering the Super Bowl don’t capture the thrill they once did—in the last century. Forty years of National Geographics? Really?
Now, pretend this extra space above denotes the passage of time. I’ve typed this on June 23, so many, many wearing days since my move on May 29. The move hasn’t been as frightening as that experience on Longs Peak, but that was maybe 45 years ago. This was worse. In fact, I couldn’t even type until today. A miracle man fixed my computer. Except I’m almost too tired to type.
Let’s start with the day of the move. A mover dropped the cabinet that my TV usually sat on and broke it. Bounce, bounce, bounce down the stairs. “Toss it!!” I blithely exclaimed. Easy come, easy go. It’s fun to be blithe. When we got to the new apartment building the freight elevator was broken and all my furniture stacked up in the lobby. Right then I got a call on my cell phone telling me that my old phone number would not be transferred to the new carrier. Most of you who know me would say I’m usually glued, but in the midst of all that pile of furniture I became unglued.
So we get upstairs and are moving in the furniture. One man is putting the bed together, I’m doing something else important and the other mover is bringing more furniture in. And right then I hear, “Fire Department.” What? Good Lord, what next? It seems the man putting the bed together accidentally tripped the alarm which alerts first responders that some old timer is in trouble. This is not going well.
The last three or four weeks seem almost like a month. But listen to this: My apartment is on the fifth floor and I have a great big porch that looks west. You know what’s out there? About one hundred miles of sprawling mountains. And sunsets. A person could get used to this.