I live in what is known as a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC). There are many young families here, singletons and couple of all ages, but a lot of the original settlers (circa 1957) or those that came shortly after, never left. My neighbor might have been one of those originals. She had short white hair, a bend in her back. She leaned heavily on her cane, and her eyes while rheumy, were still bright and alert. She was quick enough to realize I was going down to the basement, and announced she would move to the side. We have a certain elevator etiquette throughout the six buildings in the complex in which I live. We chat on elevators — or at least acknowledge each other. So we were talking about the weather of course. How fall is here, those crisp lovely days, blah blah blah. I didn’t confess that I hadn’t even been outside today.
She got off at the lobby. I went down to the laundry room. A couple of minutes later, I’m on the elevator again, and it stops at the lobby. She gets back on acknowledging the coincidence. I figured she had probably gone to check on her mail or run into the office for something. I told her I had thought she’d gone out to enjoy the day and asked if she had plans to get back out in the great weather we had just been discussing. She said she had to get ready for something. “I’m going to Kennedy,” she said slyly as though sharing a secret.
“Someplace nice, I hope,” I said.
“Really? That sounds great.”
“It’s a beautiful city. I’m not sure I want to go. I have friends going. It’ll be good to see them. I’m mostly going to see them,” she said. She didn’t sound totally convinced. She didn’t sound miserable about it either.
She went on. “It’s a conference. They asked me to speak,” she shrugged as if to say this was as per usual in her life. “It’ll be fun to see my friends.”
I didn’t ask for details. I took her in again, reassessing her. “That’s great, to be asked to speak. It’s a beautiful city and you’ll see your friends. It’s not a vacation, but it sounds like fun.”
It was my floor. “I’ll try to remember that,” she said as I got out.
I knew she would.
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