A year ago today, Bette and I moved into Holladay Park Plaza and I want to tell you a little about it. For me, there is always the question of what to call today. I have been celebrating the various month marks as we have gone along, so we celebrated our tetramensiversary (four) and our sesamensiversary (seven) and our decamensiversary (ten) “Anniversary” is the handy word for today, but if I wanted to stay with the monthly count, I think I would choose dodecamensiversary as the right word for today. That ought to mean “12 months.”
Bette and I did a lot of planning in anticipation of our move here. I wrote three sets of
essays about the process, so it wasn’t something we did without a good deal of thought. On the other hand, there isn’t really any way to know what it is like to live here apart from living here and we have now done a year’s worth of that. We live in a high-rise part of HPP. This sketch shows the East Building, which is being built right across the street from us and which we have watched since they first broke ground. Beautiful!
I think my one line summary is that living here is easier to do than I thought and harder to describe than I thought.
Let me deal with the thinking part first. I have written a fair amount about the major aspects of HPP in preparation for some first anniversary essays. I was thinking of following one of my favorite acronyms, PERSIA, and telling you about the political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, and aesthetic aspects of our new home. Having re-read what I wrote, I realize I simply don’t understand the experience. I thought it was better than I learn that be reading my own writing than to post it and have you all tell me. So…maybe next year.
Instead, I’d like to celebrate today by painting a picture or so and telling a story or so.
There are too many interesting people here for us to have met them all in our first year. The most common get to know you setting is dinner and the most common arrangement is to reserve a table with the new people you would like to get to know. We’ve been doing that for a year now and we haven’t gotten around and besides that, some new people have become residents since we have.
Bette and I have joined several kinds of activities and when you start an activity, you pick up a new kind of resident—a colleague. A colleague isn’t just a friend; a colleague is someone who is trying to get done the same things you are. Every ongoing commitment, whether it is the library, in Bette’s case, or the Plaza Singers in mine, gives you a new set of people who care about what you care about.
In closing this brief reflection off, I’d like to paint two scenes for you to think about. In the lobby outside the dining room, there is a little alcove with chairs set around. There is also a very advanced one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker, so people wander in and get a cup of coffee and stay to talk. It’s like a cracker barrel at an old country store.
Early in the morning, there is a group I call Barbara’s Coffee Klatch, after Barbara Tyler, who presides there every morning. It is a women’s group both in the sense that most of the participants are women and also in the sense that the conversations have to do with relationships and extended families and medical events and proposed travels and so on. Anyone is welcome who wants to have that kind of conversation and I stop by there most mornings to catch up on things.
In the afternoon, in the same place, there is a group I call Drasko’s Seminar, after Drasko Jovanovic, who presides there every afternoon. It is a men’s group both in the sense that most of the participants are men and also in the sense that the conversations have more of a debate style to them. Some observation is made and then challenged and then supported, and so on. One recent topic was, “Is Donald Trump capable of making a decision?” It was a serious question, carefully phrased, and backed up with decades of experience at the federal level. There are travelogues as well, because quite a few of these men have lived a lot of places, but we keep coming back to the question on the floor.
I like those two scenes because they suggest the variety of ways there are to live here. I prefer Drasko’s kind of discussion, myself, but I benefit a great deal from hearing what is said in Barbara’s and a place that has both is richer. This truck was very important to us in August of last year. I happened on it today and remembered just how important.
Our goal in coming to Holladay Park Plaza while we were still active was to get our chance to be a part of the robust life of the place, to help solve whatever problems we found, and to help formulate problems that had not yet been formulated, but that should have been. We have done that in this year. We have, in the words of one of the staff who is well-placed to see, “hit the ground running.”
I don’t have any goals for next year apart from continuing to do what we are doing, to make whatever contribution we can make, and to enjoy the company of a diverse and active set of friends.
I do hope to understand, better than I do now, what makes this place tick. But understanding sometimes takes longer and I’m not in a hurry. It’s only Year 1.