As you might expect, writing about the October Years---in either a novel or blogging format---is different than writing about the April Years we sometimes long to relive. By now my audience and I have probably become more realistic in our expectations. We have lived out at least some of our April dreams and hopefully by now we have learned what is real and what is not. Though we may revisit our own memory-laden April and May from time to time, we know that in October we are bound to come face to face with the real world.
We know too that as we’ve moved across life's calendar our priorities have changed. Though the trials and the rewards are no less intimidating now, they are very different. In the course of the nine October Years stories I have written I have touched on many of those changes---the hurtful times that bring turmoil to once settled lives, the retirement gone wrong or a life-partner lost, the once stable financial future turned sour by a failing economy. I’ve even described the nearly indescribable pain of dementia forcing its way into a long and loving relationship.
In the face of those real-life trials there are times when the October psyche seeks relational support to carry on. Of course, there is no way to replace the loss of a loved one, and no sense of victory when we learn to cope with such life-altering events. But when the only other option is numbing aloneness there may be satisfying alternatives.
For too many of those October Years folks the enemy is loneliness and isolation. It can literally hurt to face those times alone. Perhaps it’s the way they are wired. And though I understand it is not the answer for everyone, it is hard for me to imagine that facing those October trials alone is preferable to being there with a caring and special someone. Of course, as much as I believe that, in a novel setting I can’t have my characters arrive at that understanding too quickly. They must find their own way to their own answers, otherwise I have no story.
I suppose it was the importance of overcoming that aloneness that drew me to the October Years and the stories I tell---the ones about Tanner seniors in search of the relationship that will overcome the curse of life lived alone. That search, of course, seldom turns up simple, ready-made answers. We never know what’s coming next, or how we’ll deal with it. Sounds like real life doesn’t it?
So, with your input I’m willing to steer this October Years conversation in most any direction you would like to take it. I hope you’ll come along. Welcome aboard.