(Notice I did not tell you the room number. Some of you are just Evil enough that I know you'd ... you know.)
Mercer Hall used to have--right downstairs--a coffee shop/restaurant (the Tango Bistro) that we would frequent. I would go down first thing in the morning, read my 100-pp daily quota for Kirkus Reviews, read the Times on Kindle, sipping coffee; Joyce would join me in a bit, and we would have breakfast (part of the price of the room). I always had the same thing (can you imagine?): bowl of granola and fruit and yogurt. I loved it. Dreamed about it back in Hudson.
And then--last year--the Tango was gone, and in its place was an upscale restaurant--a very, very nice one--but no more breakfasts downstairs. So we had to go find another place--which we did: Coffee Culture, a chain of large Starbucky shops in the area. It's nice. I get "my" leather (faux?) chair where I sit and do the usual until Joyce arrives. But it's not the same. No granola cum fruit & yogurt, for one thing. And it's not right downstairs.
Change. I don't like it.
Right down the street is a bakery we love. We would get a baguette every day, take it back to the room to share for lunch--and late-night snacking after returning from our evening show. This morning (Tuesday) we went to place our order, but the clerk told us: "We don't have baguettes anymore. Didn't sell enough." What they did have were fatty pastries that I would love to eat by the cubic yard but cannot eat even by the cubic inch--not any longer.
Change. I really don't like it.
A few years ago we found a wonderful little restaurant--the York Street Kitchen, right on (would you believe it?) York Street. It was a small place, out of the way, that took no reservations. So we would speed-walk there after our 2:00 matinee was over--and usually got a small table right away for wonderful salads and sandwiches--local ingredients. You know ... ?
Last year, we sped-walked to the York Street Kitchen and found ... an empty storefront. They'd moved to a new location, less convenient, up on a busier street, Erie Street (new name: the York Street Kitchen on Erie--no kidding). We went once; it wasn't the same experience. Pouting, immature, we did not go there again last year. But we'll give it a whirl again this week. (We've matured.)
Change. I really, really don't like it.
At my age, planning a year in advance is always a little--what?--hopeful? Foolish? Arrogant? All of the above? I mean, it's all those things for anyone, really, Life and Death being what they are. And Chance sometimes being a cruelly capricious fellow.
Remember that sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay--the one about the folly of planning?
Read history, thus learn how small a space
You may inhabit, nor inhabit long
In crowding Cosmos — in that confined place
Work boldly; build your flimsy barriers strong;
Turn round and round, make warm your nest; among
The other hunting beasts, keep heart and face, —
Not to betray the doomed and splendid race
You are so proud of, to which you belong.
For trouble comes to all of us: the rat
Has courage, in adversity, to fight;
But what a shining animal is man,
Who knows, when pain subsides, that is not that,
For worse than that must follow — yet can write
Music; can laugh; play tennis; even plan.
Last year I was afraid that the ensuing year would find me on hormone therapy for my obstreperous prostate cancer--and that I wouldn't feel well enough to come. That was a cause for some near-despair, believe me. But I booked our room, anyway, ordered our tickets. Isn't the joy of life getting to do the things you love with the people you love?
Well, this year I am indeed on hormone therapy, but, so far (cross fingers and other superstitious acts) I have felt well enough to come here, to be here, to do here what I need and want to do here.
Some year, I know, I will not be able to come. We brought my mother with us a couple of times, not all that long ago; it's impossible for her now--she can barely get across her room nowadays. I feel so bad that I don't even tell her where we are this week. I know it would make her feel bad.
No, I don't like change.
In fact, much of the time I just plain hate it.