Thursday, March 05, 2009


A friend at the university is retiring this month. Wednesday was my last professional (and possibly any) encounter with her and I lingered after our work meeting to get a sense of how she feels about the next stage of her life.

She spoke about her commitment to volunteerism at her church, and about past work that she and her husband had done for Habitat for Humanity down in Kentucky. I asked if she was thinking of moving south and she indicated that her husband’s wood working would most likely keep him (and thus her as well) rooted here – the place of his workshop.

What keeps us rooted to our home base when a job is no longer a consideration? Family – that’s the most typical response, no? Some would say they wont ever leave because of friends, but I doubt they mean it. People in this country move all the time, despite claims of tight friendship networks.


But maybe with age, your dependence on friends changes. Maybe in twenty years, I will have given up even on the idea of friends. On my most recent visit to Poland, my father, who has retreated almost entirely from an active social arena, said that he no longer missed friends. He shrugged and told me -- I said to them and they said to me all that could ever be said in life and so what’s the point? Is this just him, or am I (are we) also likely to hang back thirty years from now?


And what about the prospect of my moving? Naaah, I’ll stay here, in Madison, for reasons of family. I don’t actually have any family in Wisconsin, but I am convinced that none of my closest family members (daughters!) would visit me anywhere but Madison (they love the Farmers Market here) and so I will not move.

I think about this as I load marinated mushrooms onto a plate. Homemade marinated mushrooms. Made for friends who are stopping by this evening.


Still, I know what I;m wrestling with: setting up a home elsewhere is, to me, as tempting as rescuing a dog (warm climate, pooch running outdoors, mmm...). Neither really fits with my life and yet I consider both, quite frequently actually. Once I run through the options and difficulties associated with such monumental changes, I breathe a sigh of relief that it's all in the realm of fantasy.