I’m coming up on four years since my husband died. I’ve remodeled my apartment so it’s just the way I want it. I feel blessed with family near by and friends that I see regularly. I’m on a diet plan that actually works. One of the exercises I recently did at the behest of this diet group was draw a wheel of life. Basically dividing the circle into eight segments, five consecutive circles inside the outermost circle. Each segment is labeled: Health, Career, Money, Fun and Recreation, Personal Growth, Significant Other or Romance, Family and Friends, and Physical Environment.
Seeing the Significant Other or Romance wedge completely void was enough to let me think about changing that (and a few other of the wedges look a little skimpy). So I made the decision that I would look into a dating app.
A few weeks ago, my young neighbor next door commented that I’d been remodeling my apartment, and asked me if I was planning to move. I remarked that he’d told me he’d taken a new job and was supposed to move to Austin. He looked a little sheepish, and the next time I saw him in the hallway with his new girlfriend, I asked them to drop by to see the apartment. I invited them in and showed them the apartment and in the course of their visit, asked them how they’d met.
“We met on Hinge,” they said. They looked really happy. We all acknowledged that that was pretty much the way people meet people these days, if not on Hinge, then on any number of dating sites. I joked (this was pre-wheel of life exercise) that I was getting close to ready to put my profile together. My neighbor laughed and said he’d be happy to help me.
Weeks passed, and I had a wonderful visit with my former colleague, Tina, who was in town for work. I’ve continued to walk at the reservoir daily, with a host of lake friends there. The walk never gets dull and invigorates me every day.
Then came the Wheel of Life exercise. And the decision that I had to at least go to one dating site. Boomer that I am, I typed “hinge.com” into the browser. It opened up a really fancy hardware store that provides upscale hardware for buildings. People caressing door knobs. Butterflies of metal opening their inner secrets. Metaphoric? Hardly. But perfect. I had a good laugh.
I happened to be chatting with my son on messenger this evening right about the same time, and I was telling him about my upcoming weekend jaunt to San Francisco to visit my brother and his wife. I fell out laughing at the hinge store site, and dropped it in the chat. This is how to stop a chat with your son instantly. I understand that no one wants to think of their mother starting a romantic chapter at over 60. He claimed two days later when he resumed the chat that he’d had to go off to the camp and missed the last two messages, laughing appreciatively.
Next I googled “Best dating sites for women over 60” because that’s a really reliable source of information. Silver Singles. I picked up my phone and looked in the app store, where of course I found Hinge, Bumble, OK Cupid, and something called “Coffee meets bagel dancing.” What the hell does that mean? I knew I was in way over my head.
So I dropped that segment of the Wheel of Life and decided to concentrate on the Family and Friends part. I flew on Friday to San Francisco, only delayed three hours, which popped me smack dab in the heart of North Beach on a Friday night at 11:00PM. I hadn’t expected all the force of my long association with San Francisco to hit me so hard. My Dad had lived there for about twenty years from the early 1980s, and I’d spent several summers out there, learning the bus system by heart, working at Macy’s on Union Square in inventory, where my friends Bob and Bill and I skated on our roller blades around the aisles of inventory.
My Uber driver dumped me at the Holiday Inn Express on Fisherman’s Wharf, where I fell into the soft white limitless linens after setting my alarm for 4:45AM. I had my weekly chat with my sage council.
The next morning, after spending an hour or so with my buddies Bob and Susan, I packed up my single backpack and headed out the door of the hotel to walk to the wharf to my brother’s shop. It was cool and gray, the pavement studded with the infrequent but forlorn forms of unhoused humans, a sight painfully familiar to this denizen of downtown Los Angeles.
My brothers and I couldn’t be less alike in temperament, life path, or attitudes. I’ve always thought it was amazing how we ended up in so completely diverse an array of businesses – Don, the oldest, is a brilliant electrical engineer and designer of technologies like scanners that could read the shapes and colors of fruit, just one of about 55 patents developed over his long career at NCR. I spend about three mornings a week walking around the reservoir with him, since he moved to LA on his birthday in the heart of the pandemic two years ago. We talk about all kinds of things, but mostly we just enjoy spending together after our separate adult lives of marriage and raising kids. It’s really nice to spend time with someone who knows your history, your foibles, your sense of humor and is in your corner.
Our middle brother, whom I hadn’t seen since January 2019 is a commercial/wholesale fish broker in San Francisco; he runs a fishing association of about 20 boats and moves huge quantities of crab, salmon, squid, you name it, through the warehouse there. He is a colorful media magnet (no, not magnate, magnet). You can see his latest video here. I always love dropping in to see him hard at work because that’s the only way you can catch him – hard at work. He was so pleased that I got to see some salmon in his shop this time. Of the three of us Collins children, Larry, aka Diver Duck, has always been the most colorful.
I remember the first time my husband and I brought our newly adopted son, Chris, up to meet Dad and his wife, Joan, and my brother, Duck and his wife Bunky. Recently I found some videos that flashed me right back to that first visit on December 30, 1992 when Jimmie carried Chris out onto the dock so we could see Uncle Larry in his boat.
Chris was about three that trip.Over the years we’ve all enjoyed a lot of beautiful salmon courtesy of our middle brother.
One summer, we had a family reunion in Cape Cod which Duck couldn’t come to because it fell during Salmon season, but he generously shipped us a big fish via FedEx. We ended up chasing the truck all over the Cape to find the fish, which we then took to the local pier to have them butcher for us before cooking it for the whole party, who were amazed.
This was the fish he sent for my 40th birthday. Good thing I wasn’t married to an actor or anything.
Flash forward about 18 years, and Larry hired our twenty-one year old son, Chris to work on his boat, where he passed along our generation’s understanding of what hard work is.
Chris learned to be as big a cut up as his Dad and his Uncle Duck. Here he was in December 2010, the last time we were in SF for Christmas, when Duck’s coop was bringing the ocean’s largesse to San Francisco.
Lastly there’s me, who runs our own little coop of roughly twenty shows a year and teaches college students. It was only this weekend that I finally figured out what we have in common. We’re all in production. When Duck started to describe his last trip to Sitka, Alaska, and a salmon processing plant up there, it began to dawn on me what might be our similarities. He described in meticulous detail how the workers would feed the fish into the machine, one by one, cradling them gently, upside down, every five seconds or so. The fish bellies had already been split open. Duck described step by step, lovingly, appreciatively, each cut that would remove their spines, then their pin bones, then their fins, leaving the beautiful fillets. Next they were vacuum sealed, then cut into separate fillets. As I listened, I got an inkling of his appreciation for the precision of it, the efficacy of getting the product to market without waste. How you can always do it better.
I flashed back on some of the conversations my brother Don and I had talked about the the work he’d done over the years at National Cash Register and the precision of testing required as well as his thoughtful redesign of packaging to reduce inefficiency or improve the product. Same type of brains, different type of products. And what I do is production, too, with a equal appreciation for efficiencies of scale and management of people. It’s just theatre, not fish or barcode scanners.
So back in the city after my brief stay with Duck and Bunky, I have a renewed appreciation for family and friends. And no urgency to try out any additional sexy hardware for the time being.