My mother, May, did not like to leave her comfort zone. She craved routine. My father was offered a position as a career officer in Europe after WWII, but she said nothing doing. Leaving the security of home would have been overwhelming to her. She stopped working when dad came back from England, and I was born nine months later.
Mom went shopping for groceries every Friday, went to the hairdresser every Thursday evening, served us dinner on snack tables (hey, it was the 50s and 60s) in front of the TV every night at 5, vacuumed and made the beds at precisely the same time every morning after breakfast.
I tried to convince her to start working when my sisters and I were grown, but she refused.
She was forced to leave her comfort zone when she was 66 and my dad died. She moved to an apartment in Manhattan, joined the 60 Plus Program at the 92 Street Y and spent the next 20 years in a new comfort zone she created for herself.
She went to the Y practically every weekday, played bridge, Rummy Q and Mah Jong on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, attended Shakespeare classes on Wednesday, and had dinner out with Y friends on Friday.
She rarely ventured outside of her CZ. If my sisters or I invited her to do something new, she made excuses. “That’s bridge day. I can’t disappoint the women,” she’d say.
I didn’t inherit a CZ gene. I thrive on change and challenge. I once loved gold jewelry exclusively; now I prefer silver. I’ve never bought the same shade of lipstick twice and my fave perfume is never fave for too long. I’ll knit obsessively for three years in a row, then I won’t pick up the needles for the next two. My “look” has been preppy, nerdy, sexy and avant garde. I’ve created new jobs for myself since I started working at 21, and taken up pilates, followed by weights, then yoga–with a treadmill fixation in between.
I’m not comfortable if I’m feeling too comfortable, I get restless easily and relaxation isn’t my strong suit.