In the waiting room at cardio rehab I ran into our neighbor. Carroll lives across the big road in the pink condos. It was her husband's last day on the treadmills. He'd had a few stents put in this time. They were old hands at cardio rehab by now.
"You pay real close attention to the eating regimen they give you at first -- right down to the condiments. But pretty soon you let a little pizza and burgers in." She laughed, gleeful and fleshy.
She met her husband at our local university, where she graduated in 1961. She followed him through a string of small farm towns where he taught middle school boys with buzz cuts.
"You'll be amazed at how quick the body adapts," she told me. She clenched her first and covered it with her left hand. "The heart's about this big, you know? Of course my husband could tell you more about it -- he taught science."
After a distinguished career capped by 20 years as a middle school principal in a town 32 miles away, they settled back in our valley to be close to the university.
"We never did travel much before, but now we've been taking some tours. In the Los Angeles airport they were SO MEAN." She seemed genuinely hurt, and it hurt me to imagine those bored kids at their desks nonchalantly being mean to my neighbor. She was worried about an upcoming trip through New York.
"Well if you handled LA you'll be fine at La Guardia," I told her, lying.
"We never did live more than 100 miles from here," she said as her husband came off the treadmill. "Never did find a reason to."