The New Kids on the Block

Deborah Dorman

Remember what it was like when your family moved to a new place? Or when you first arrived at college? Of course, we had no Facebook, email, or other easy means to stay in touch with old friends and family members. Family calls in college were once a week, at best, on a hallway phone, and we all called, let it ring twice, and hung up so they could call us, or we called “collect.” It was just expected that we would shift to a whole new set of friends, and become more independent from family. The process, while perhaps exciting to some, created much stress and insecurity.

It’s not so different now. We have those former ties to hang onto during the transition, and it doesn’t require writing long letters and using snail mail. But moving is very stressful, and every little thing is so new. I have several clickers on my nightstand, and four in my sunroom. The convenience of remote control is overwhelmed by the multitude of separate gadgets. There are new utilities and household systems, and everything has an app attached to it, even the garage. Very cool, but also bewildering. Days are filled with contractors returning to fix and adjust, installers bringing new things to figure out, and delivery people with furniture and other household goods. My husband claims that as soon as he makes the boxes disappear, I’ve replaced them with boxes from Amazon and furniture to assemble (which I swore I wouldn’t do anymore). I’ve encountered about 20 new Allen wrenches, and hope to never see one again. The TV and Internet are entirely different than what we were used to, and may require a Ph.D. in something to fully master. Otherwise, why do we keep getting emails with training videos? We have an elder-friendly home with grab bars, arthritis-proof doorknobs, and rounded wall edges, but air filters to change every month that are 10’ high. It took us several days to figure out how to get our mail, including a trip to the post office and searching for the mailboxes that are not visible from the house. We didn’t know that desert dirt turns to quicksand after a rain, and wet sand is very slippery. It took me a month to convince myself that scorpions and snakes did not lurk around every dark corner (like my bathroom), only to find that my dog is seriously threatened by hawks, owls, and coyotes—who actually walk down the street.

People are super friendly, which is a great help. Everyone is willing to provide assistance, and we can see that people look after each other. We expected to come in contact with lots of other newbies, but as the lots worked out, most of our immediate neighbors have lived here long enough to form close associations. Fortunately for us, we moved here with very close friends, so we know someone who knows who we really are. It’s easy to say that who we were before doesn’t matter, but it actually does. We all have history, experiences, various skills and talents that we bring with us. I want a fresh start, mostly, but I am not a blank slate. It takes patience to form new ties, but we are in a time of life when the days move faster than we’d like, and we are not getting younger. For now, we will be content with getting involved in activities and settling in to all the new routines and gadgets. We will try not to let old insecurities (when I say old, I mean, like, third grade level) get in the way. We’ll remind ourselves that it takes time to feel at home.