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Monday, Nov. 03, 2003 @ 9:35 am

I’ve got a pair of extremely old neighbors. They get by, but very slowly. No telling how long they’ve been living in the house next door. Today, I was walking through the backyard, delivering garbage to its can in the alley. Mr. Neighbor is making the same trek, moving slower than the speed of ants. I lap him with my housekeeping and on the way back inside, I turn and catch his eye. “How are you?” I say loudly, the ruffle of his nylon coat sure to be sending shockwaves through his hearing aids, blocking out my greeting if I don’t shout.

“Hi Joy!” he answers.

Perhaps it’s time I cut my hair? I smiled kindly, and entered the house, and just before the door shut, I heard Mr. Neighbor: “O-oh… Adam?”

This will, at several points today and probably for many more weeks, haunt me like a constant reminder of creaking bones and dusty reclining chairs and televisions with the color all out of whack, always tuned to the news or nothing watched by anyone under the wild age of 94. There will be a time, then, when getting older blows. I might have miscalculated last week with my upbeat birthday banter.

The other evening, Murphy the cat was standing in the paved walkway leading around the neighbor’s house. Joy and I pulled up in front, returning from dinner out, and noticed him there, blocking the route of Mrs. Neighbor to her own back yard. No telling how long she’d been standing there. But there she was, framed in her walker, unsure of her own ability to navigate around the fluffy beast through the grass, nervous about successfully hoisting herself up the few inches back to the concrete walkway.

Joy went and picked Murphy up, clearing the path and sharing a friendly giggle with Mrs. Neighbor. It’s enough to make you think twice about feeling fine about birthdays.

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