Feeling sophisticated


Dinner in the Blue Spire, Trinity Terrace

Last night, Jordan, Christian, and I were treated to dinner at Trinity Terrace by Jean, who moved to the high-rise retirement center in October. I had been to her apartment and dined in the Blue Spire, the more formal dining area, a couple of times, but the Burtons were most curious. For me, it was being transported to a world that I’ve long since left behind. A wonderful menu, good wine, white linen—all the trappings of fine dining.

Jordan and Christian predictably chose steak—and I forget what Jean had—but I had the tenderloin in a crème fraiche sauce with noodles (and will have the rest tonight). What really made the meal for me was my appetizer—fried oysters that were crispy on the outside and soft and succulent inside. A rare treat. I used to love them raw but am now a bit afraid. We even indulged in dessert—bread pudding for Jean and chocolate mousse for the rest of us. I had eaten so much, but I cannot ever pass up mousse. I don’t think Jordan had ever tasted bread pudding and she was surprised and pleased with the one bite she tried.

Because the kids asked, Jean explained the advantages—and disadvantages—of living there, plus all the things she had considered in visiting various retirement communities. Jordan listened so avidly and asked so many questions that I said, “Don’t even think it!” She replied, “I’m not thinking about you! I’m moving in.” When I had said to Christian way beforehand not to think they could move me there, he said, “We know better than that, Juju.”

After a two-hour dinner, punctuated by a lot of laughter and a lot of pointing out this building and that from what would be the thirteenth floor (only they don’t call it that), we went up to the seventeenth to Jean’s apartment. Her reupholstered furniture was now in place, things arranged as she wanted them, much different from when I first saw  it. Her late husband was a craft artist, and one whole wall of lighted bookcases displays much of his work, with weathervanes marching across the top. The view from the floor-to-ceiling windows is spectacular. The kids went out on the balcony but, seventeen floors up? No way. I stayed clear across the room. But the whole place is sort of a wonderful blend of artsy, modern, and cozy, one of the most striking apartments in all three buildings, I’m sure.

Jean is happy there, at home, and comfortable. Communal living doesn’t attract me—I didn’t even like dorm life, for goodness’ sake! With an innate fear of height and a dislike of self-service elevators, I want to be able to step out my door onto the good earth, and I very much want to be able to just open a door and let my dog out. (A good friend, Jeannie, has the apartment next to Jean, and she has to take her dog down seventeen floors to pee.) Christian said if he lived there—and I could see he liked the idea some twenty or more years on—he wouldn’t have a dog, but I replied, “I don’t want to live without a dog.”

Dogs in Trinity Terrace are a funny story. They are not to walk on the carpet in hallways or on the elevator, so Jeannie takes her small poodle in what looks like a baby carriage. I reported this to other friends who are seriously thinking of moving to Trinity Terrace. Phil has a seeing-eye dog, a lab, and I can’t quite picture him in a carriage or even a little red wagon. I’m sure there are exceptions for service dogs.

Between the church, the university, and just Fort Worth in general, we all know a lot of people who live in Trinity Terrace. In that way it would be welcoming. There’s a wide buffet of activities every day—Jean is looking forward to a patio jazz concert this weekend—but there are some people who hide in their apartments. I am so accustomed to my daytime solitude, I don’t know if I’d do that or not.

Any way you look at it, it was a lovely and informative evening. At one point when one of us said how much we enjoyed the elegant meal, Jean said it gets kind of routine. She, a good cook, is thinking about fixing more meals in her apartment. I meantime am counting my blessings because I think I have the perfect set-up. Close but not too close to one branch of my family, comfortable quarters, a great patio and small backyard—enough for Sophie—and a place to work.

Retirement is different for everyone. I’ve found my niche, and so has Jean.