Make yourself (un)comfortable

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.

Although I’m not a fan of routines, I do enjoy some of them: Walking the dog, watching reruns of Two and a Half Men at 11 pm, and going to my sister’s for Thanksgiving and July 4th. David and I also took mom out for dinner most Saturday nights the last couple of years of her life. It’s sad that  routine ended.

0 Responses to “Make yourself (un)comfortable”

  1. Susan says:

    I hear you, oh yes. But I’ve found that people with a strong preference for routine have had a certain sort of experience — esp. early in life — that caused this fear. Make no mistake, it is fear. (Often even us daughters, granddaughters don’t know, if ever, what it’s really about.) Only recently I found out what it was for my beloved grandfather, he died in the late 1970s. So.

    I took off for France at age 17, on my own, enrolled in a university there – instead of going to what I referred to as “one of those convents” in the N-east. (Seven Sisters stuff & I apologize to everyone for putting it that way–many friend went, & I’m sure I would’ve eventually adjusted.) Ran all over the world, etc. I was scared to death quite often so it wasn’t bravery–at all. (People have asked over & again…you what???) I was afraid to fly & still am. And so on. It’s just that my desire to go somewhere/do something overruled the fear. It’s a personal algebraic formula…& it changes & then changes again. Damn.:)

    But I still feel on edge just before I do something (or decide to do it) that’s out of my comfort zone (which has become necessarily narrower due to unpredictable illness) & become very upset, even nauseous, at some upheavals. Yes, I still do whatever it is, usually; it just takes longer to work out the equation.

    Still, I have known people who dearly wanted to do something, travel somewhere & real hindrances, such as financial or health, were not present. I’m more understanding now than before. It’s especially difficult to watch someone finally do something they always wanted but feared; and they love it. And then they realize that their life could have been very different–many years ago. Then one has to work with them to let go of that disappointment & celebrate that they did it, finally.

    Oh dear, well I need more coffee. I can’t even write a simple declarative sentence this morning.


    • Geri says:

      Hi Susan,

      Oh, you are so right. You made me think that maybe my mother was fearful. One of her other routines was hanging out the front door if my dad was 3 minutes late driving up. Was she afraid that if she ventured out on her own, she’d fail?


  2. Preppy 101 says:

    My grandmother had a routine also. And she would not break it come hell or high water 😉 I purposely do things to get me out of my CZ because it is so easy to get into one . . . And you are so right – it is so sad that some routines end. xoxo


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