Well, Constant Reader, another weekend is upon us here in my corner of Florida. Right now it’s early afternoon here, and the temperature outside is 92 degrees Fahrenheit under mostly sunny skies; with humidity at 62% and a westerly breeze of 11 MPH, the heat index is 108 degrees Fahrenheit. If it wasn’t so beastly hot, I’d go for a quick walk, but unfortunately it is, so I’ll just stick to my usual routine and stay indoors.
In any case, I’m bone-weary tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night; I posted yesterday’s post here sometime after 8 PM because my computer kept getting disconnected from the WiFi signal, and even after I succeeded in publishing Inside Steel Coffins: ‘Red Storm Rising’ & ‘Cold Waters’ and had a stable Internet connection, I found enough errors (typos mostly, but a few factual ones as well) that WordPress recorded 14 revisions in total. After that, I had to endure somebody else’s all-night bout of loud music, including almost an entire playthrough of One Night Only: Bee Gees. By the time I had access to the TV and Blu-ray player in the Florida room, it was way past 2 AM.
Now, if there’s one thing that I’m not fond of is when someone decides to play music of any genre at an extremely high volume, even if it is a genre I enjoy, such as classical music or film scores. Granted, I am hard of hearing, but I’m not deaf, and ever since I was a kid I’ve had a deeply-rooted aversion to loud music.
So not only did I have a throbbing headache for most of the evening (including whilst I was finishing up the blog post that required 14 revisions), but I was also frustrated and, honestly, quite upset about being subjected to an unwanted musical barrage, especially of late 1970s-era disco music.
I think part of the problem is that as grateful as I am that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a family environment I wouldn’t have had if someone had not decided to take me into her home after Mom died, I lead a more constrained life than I did when I lived in South Florida in the Land of Ago.
Until four years ago, I had quite a bit of independence in many aspects of my life. While I’ve never been able to afford my own apartment – either by renting or buying one – due to my inability to earn enough money to do so, when I lived with my late mother I had a great deal of self-reliance. Mostly because I had – again – a roof over my head and food in my belly thanks to Mom, but also because we lived in a condominium that was relatively close to everything – a shopping plaza a third of a mile away, several malls a long walk or short bus ride’s distance, even a bank that was two miles away…still within my walking range, though it often entailed a 90-minute-long round trip.
Thus, even in the nine months-long period between Mom’s passing and the first phase of my exodus from Miami, I was fairly self-reliant. I was able to keep the lights on, the cable TV, landline, and Internet connected, plus I had a Metro PCS cell phone under my name. The homeowners’ association still got paid its monthly fee under my mom’s account but from my account. And I could still buy essentials such as food and OTC medicines from the nearby shopping plaza.
Unfortunately, a protracted dispute with my half-sister Victoria over Mom’s 2010 last will and testament ate away at my limited funds, and in any case I wouldn’t have been able to sustain the amount of spending necessary to own the townhouse I’d inherited. Even if I cut “unnecessary” expenses as my subscription to Time magazine and closed out my cable TV and landline phone and just kept an Internet connection, I would still have run out of money by December 2017 – and then what?
So when a high school classmate decided to take me into her home several hundred miles away from my hometown, I didn’t resist. The nine months I spent in Miami after July 19, 2015 were not particularly lonely, but by the same token, I hated living solo in a house that was designed for a family of 3 or 4 (and that I’d shared with my widowed mom for 37 years).
To be honest, I still think I’ve gained more than I’ve lost; as I said earlier, I live in a family setting, which is nice. I am not in an assisted living facility, which was my half-sister’s plan for me if she had prevailed in Miami-Dade County’s probate court. I’m not out on the street with just the clothes on my back nor do I lack for food or drink. In fact, I have regained the weight I lost while I was taking care of my mother between May of 2010 and July 2015.
Still, there are many things I can no longer do that I used to almost without a thought in my pre-2016 life. Cooking my own meals is one; the stove here is a gas model; I’m used to electric stoves, which have sturdier knobs and don’t emit open flame. I did make rice a few times when I first moved in, but it was so nerve-racking that I stopped cooking altogether. And cooking for five persons is more difficult for me than cooking for my now-lost family in Miami ever was. Everyone here is particular about what he or she likes to eat, so meal planning is a task more fit for Sisyphus than for me.
And forget about being able to run my own errands. The neighborhood where I live is much nicer than East Wind Lake Village was at the time of my move, but the distances between the house and the nearest supermarket are daunting: 2.1 miles, or 42 minutes on foot. So if I have a craving for, say, a quick microwaveable plate of Mexican food, I have to ask someone to get it for me…if that someone is amenable to doing so.
Now, I’m not saying that my new family won’t fulfill reasonable requests reasonably requested, but I had been doing my own grocery shopping for years, mostly because my former house was perfectly located and Mom had encouraged me to go for errands since we moved to Fountainbleau Park in February of 1978.
Add to all this all of the stress and aggravation of living in the times of COVID-19, including having to self-quarantine, buying COVID-19 masks, and not knowing when we will return to some semblance of normalcy. I’m emotionally exhausted by the effects of the pandemic on our everyday lives, as well as the political divisiveness that the man in the Oval Office inspires, instigates, and perpetuates on a daily basis.
No wonder I spend so much time playing Cold Waters or watching escapist fare like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, or The Lord of the Rings.