Mendocino Headlands State Park. We walk a curvy trail alongside the estuary as the Big River winds its way to the ocean. The word that comes to mind is “meandering,” which brings me to “me-and-you-enduring,” which seems like an apt metaphor for married life in one’s seventies.
Actually, more than enduring. This is our fourth year living in Chico. We closed on our house the first day of the Camp Fire and arrived from Atlanta two weeks later to a world full of smoke and despair. Today, Paradise is rebuilding, and so are we.
At our age, four years seems like the blink of an eye. Yet, in those four years, we’ve seen two grandgirls and two grandsons graduate high school (two of these are about to finish college), two grandsons emerge as soccer stars and two families enjoy life to the max. We’ve given back to the community through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Chico State, the League of Women Voters, Chico Housing Action Team (CHAT) and Chico Havurah. We’ve made new friends and stayed connected with old friends—what a miracle is Zoom! We’ve vaccinated to the max and so far avoided the various plagues. And, thankfully, my husband has almost completely recovered from a life-threatening illness he suffered in October. At this moment, we sit in side-by-side in matching recliners, both writing, him a novel and me this article. Yes. We are more than enduring.
As we reflect on so much privilege, we also recognize that so many of our fellow human beings are enduring lives of poverty, homelessness and discrimination, where time passes slowly and eyes blink back tears. In the year to come, we will continue to give what we can where we can because we know when meandering becomes me-and-you-ing, all of us can flourish.
Janet Rechtman is a retired University of Georgia faculty member who moved to Chico in 2018 to be near her grandchildren.