Thank you again for the outpouring of birthday greetings last week. As Naomi Dagen Bloom put it in a comment, it was a wonderful celebration in “a very, very large backyard in cyberspace.” You made my day, more than you know.
A number of people asked questions in the comments and via email. I'm not comfortable expounding on my personal life unless it relates in some way to getting old. It's not that there are secrets; it just makes me feel overly egocentric not to mention that the answers are ordinary and boring. But it also seems impolite not to answer and since several questions were similar, this saves writing them several times in email.
doctafill asked about why I can't move back to New York City, to a less expensive part. For me, Manhattan – and especially Greenwich Village - IS New York. Through the 40 years I lived there, I always said I wouldn't like New York if I didn't live downtown. And that remains so. Having the rest of the city a subway or taxi ride away was part of the attraction, but I always wanted to go home to my little Village where I know the history of every nook and cranny.
Kenju asked how I know I would like Portland, Oregon better than Portland, Maine. Because in three years, I've never become comfortable in Maine – it's never felt like I belong - and over decades of visiting Oregon, it always feels like going home, which it literally is; I grew up there until I was 14. I hadn't realized just how small Portland, Maine is - for a city girl like me. And, my brother lives in Oregon. We've lived a continent apart for decades and I'd like to know him better before I die.
Possumlady asked how I chose Portland, Maine when I left New York. I'm pretty sure I've explained before, but...
When it became evident that to continue to eat, I'd need to sell my apartment in New York, no destination came to mind even though I've spent time in every state except five. So I made a chart of preferences:
I hate hot weather, humid and dry, and I like four seasons. So that eliminated the entire southern half of the U.S.
I like an ocean nearby. So that eliminated the entire middle of the northern half of the U.S.
I'm a city, not a rural person, so that left Seattle, Portland, Boston and Portland. I've worked in Boston over the years several times. I'm sure it has its charms, but they are not evident to me. I've also visited Seattle frequently and it seems to have all the disadvantages of a big city with few of the advantages.
That left the two Portlands. Although Oregon is my birthplace and my brother lives there, about 90 percent of my friends are in New York City. So the final decision was that there was a better chance of New York friends visiting me in Maine that Oregon.
That's true, but it doesn't make up for the pull toward Oregon I feel more strongly every day.
SteveG, who intends to move to Portland, Maine, also asked why I want to leave Maine and suggested that it might be related to something I never discuss on this blog: romantic companionships.
First, I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with Maine. It's a lovely place (if you don't mind shoveling a lot of snow). But I feel better in Portland, Oregon in many kinds of ways, among them - Portland, Oregon is a big city – a million people – and I just like the hubbub of big cities more than I recognized when I chose this Portland of about 64,000 people.
As to romantic companionship – it bears not at all on my desire to leave Maine and Steve, you're right: I don't discuss it. Should I marry again (about as likely as the next pig you see taking wing), I'll let you know.
Do I miss New York? You betcha. Every day. But after a short period of wailing and weeping when thwarted, I have always been good at accepting what is. (It's one of the things I like best about myself and it saves a lot of misery.) So if it comes to pass that moving to Portland, Oregon is impossible, I'll make peace with that too.
Did I leave out any questions?
FOLLOW-UP TO FRIDAY'S Elders and Fair Hiring Practices POSTMike Nichols of Anxiety, Panic & Health alerted me to a story in Sunday's New York Times which leads with a report about a 57-year-old man applying for a job with a much younger hiring manager. He noticed her
"...falter upon spotting him in the lobby.
"'Her face actually dropped,' said Mr. Sims, who was dressed in a conservative business suit, befitting his 25-year career in human resources at I.B.M.
"Later, in her office, after several perfunctory questions, the woman told Mr. Sims she did not believe the job would be 'suitable' for him. And, barely 10 minutes later, she stood to signal the interview was over.
"'I knew very much then it was an age situation,' said Mr. Sims."
For me, Mr. Sims' story is personally chilling. I know that "falter" and that brush-off from 20-something interviewers all too well; I've been through it more than once or twice. It can never be proven in a court of law, but you know what it is when it happens, and it has everything to do with why I now live in Portland, Maine instead of still working and living in New York City.
According to the story, the unemployment rate for workers 45 and older is the highest it has been since 1948, when tracking by age began and it takes older workers weeks longer than younger ones to find a job - if they ever do. To repeat myself from Friday, when is this going to end. Read the rest of the story here. And there are several opinion pieces on hiring older workers - or not - here.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson tells a childhood story, The Violin Song.]