Leaving

I’ve been touring retirement homes and long-term care places, all depressing in different ways. Retirement homes seem like expensive storage facilities or hotels with funny smells and Muzak that most of the residents can’t hear (fortunately). Long term care homes look more institutional. Rooms are so small – smaller than “tiny homes”. Glasssed-in memory boxes help residents remember their rooms. There is an unreal quality about the whole thing.

In one of the upper end retirement homes, I overheard two women talking. Both were in their 90s, well put together, hard of hearing, but cognitively intact. One was asking the other: “So if you worked as a teacher all your life, who took care of your children, who cooked dinner?” For some reason the very question irritated me. Maybe I assumed that the woman asking led a privileged life.

Being very old isn’t easy. Mostly it’s about the process of losing things — physical independence or mental sharpness or both. Of course, some people don’t even get there. Leaving is a difficult act, common to all of us, but individual in its execution.

That’s a lot of brooding, I know. Okay, now for the movies I saw. “Carol” — beautiful clothes, but very detached. “Spotlight” and “The Big Short” – both very good movies with great casts. “Creed” – warm and engaging, doesn’t feel like an umpteenth sequel. But my favorite movie was “Mustang”, not because it was a great movie, but it had a flow to it and kickass performance by the young protagonist. And Laurie Anderson’s sad “Heart of a Dog” started out slow, but then it picked up and gained shape. I just realized my two favorite movies (“Mustang” and “Heart of a Dog”) were about leaving.

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