Interstate 35 plays a major role in my existence, partly because thirty percent of my daily commute falls along its (barely adequate) lanes, but mostly because I have so many family members living within screaming distance of it. None of them, however, remain close by: everyone's either northeast (Kansas City metro) or southwest (in and around Austin), just inside a circle 800 miles across.

My one surviving brother decided to bring this up a few days ago, asking when I was going to relocate. (He's on the Texas side of the loop.) I indicated that I had no such plans, which brought back a rejoinder: "What's keeping you there?"

I replied that I'd been here thirty-five years, suggesting inertia, and pointed out that "I'm not overjoyed with my existence, but neither does it suck."

He wasn't buying, pointing out that I had family out his way, which is true, and that they had better weather, which is highly arguable. (They have fewer tornadoes in the Texas hill country, but they can match us easily for hot and humid in the summer, and if you think our roads are terrible after the dreaded "wintry mix," trust me on this: they are even less prepared for it than we are.)

Still, the kid (okay, he's 46, but he remains the kid) has a point. In terms of local support, since I no longer have much in the way of family around here — nearest is a niece in Stillwater — I have to rely on the kindness of friends and the occasional stranger. And my friends, for some inscrutable reason, are aging just as quickly as I am; more to the point, they have more important things to do than to look after me. And I'm okay with that, generally: there are few things I value quite so much as personal autonomy, and I'm (mostly) responsible enough to take care of myself.

This happy situation, however, can't possibly last forever: the laws of thermodynamics — specifically, that whole business about increasing entropy — will take care of that. Barring some amazing medical breakthroughs, I'm on the downward slope, and while I can perhaps postpone the inevitable, I can't actually halt it. I noted way back in Vent #318 that nobody will even know I'm gone, until they notice that this Web site hasn't been updated in several days; this might sound like an exaggeration, but it's not much of one: I've always had a tendency to keep to myself, and I suspect that it will become more pronounced as my capabilities diminish.

For now, though, I'm maintaining a consistent level of denial. I have no reason to want to leave my home — and it is my home, dammit: my name is on the deed, even if I have 19 years left on the mortgage — and if I have some horrible debilitating disease (over and above the ones I already have) waiting for me somewhere down the line, it's certainly not here yet. If the world doesn't revolve around me, well, I can still reach most of it, one way or another.

Besides, the proper time to cash in one's chips is the point where life has ceased to be interesting. I don't see that coming for a long, long time.

The Vent

  1 May 2013

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