Drove through unseasonable heavy rain showers to Yosemite, the Museums warehouse for a day of work. Aurora, the curator, assigned me to work with Ken doing photography. She’d turned up a couple of boxes of previously cataloged artifacts that had never been photographed. We have a new volunteer, Tom, who spent a long career in Burroughs and its later incarnations as part of Sperry. Aurora had him sit with her all day as they went through every Burroughs-related artifact in the catalog and he added or clarified information in the descriptions.
At four I headed back toward Palo Alto but not simply home. In the daily CH schedule — which I now get in my email every morning — it said that there would be a ceremony in the lobby to welcome Rhonda Bekkedahl, our new CEO. She’s been acting CEO for a few weeks, and in fact it was she who conducted my signing day a few weeks ago. I sat across from her at her desk and she led me through each of the numerous documents I had to sign. She was warmly congratulated by the chairman of the Board, who noted that both the outgoing CEO (who retired last month) and the Board as a whole were unanimous in recommended Rhonda as his successor. She’s been an executive here for some time, COO for a year. So she knows the organization and is apparently liked by the staff and the residents.
Anyway this is the first time I saw the whole membership, or at least most of it, assembled in one place. The lobby is large and it was pretty full of a crowd of a couple hundred people. I was looking around trying to feel like I fit in, but I don’t really, which is due to a mismatch with my quite inaccurate self-image. When I’m not actually looking in a mirror, I fall into the habit of thinking of myself as middle-aged. Um, dude… that train pulled out 20 years ago.
OK, fair enough, but I think I am in better physical shape than most of the other residents. However it is easy to notice how many are tottery or have wheeled walkers, while overlooking the large minority who are walking freely, standing straight and conducting animated conversations. Like Colin at dinner the other night, 93 and plays tennis every day.
Anyway, nobody there uses an actual Zimmer frame type walker, thank the lord! All nifty three-wheelers. If I saw anybody pushing one of those aluminum frames with tennis balls on the back legs, I’d… I don’t know what I’d do. But I would be profoundly disappointed.
After the meeting the dining hall had opened so of course I had supper there. I ate alone. Should I have invited myself to join one of the tables with three or four other people? Yeah, probably. But I’m not going to beat myself up about this. It just isn’t going to happen that I learn a bunch of people’s names and faces right away. I feel like I’m desperately clinging to the five or six I tried to remember from the floor meeting last week.
On the drive home I conceived another route that may be more fitted to my nature. I will not try to learn all the names, and I will not go out of the way to socialize at meals. I will relax and be my nerdy self, but I will also volunteer for multiple committees, of which there are many. I will learn people in small numbers, by repeated exposure in committee meetings and volunteer activities. From that may arise invitations to sit with people at meals. Or not; I really don’t care about that.