The Comfort of Routines

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Structure and routine are important in dealing with brain injury, the occupational therapist told me when my husband was discharged from the hospital. He suffers from memory loss so establishing routines helps provide consistency and stability to his day. It also helps with sequencing skills – knowing that things will happen on a regular schedule and in the same order.

It makes me think of the comfort of our routines. Every Friday night, we have dinner and martinis with our neighbors. Sometimes we eat in and make martinis at home. Sometimes we eat out  – the Polish place in Santa Monica, the Oaxacan restaurant in Venice, the Mexican place on Lincoln — but most of the time, we end up at our favorite old-time steak house in West LA.  With its red fake-leather booths, wood paneled walls and salt-water aquariums, it always feels welcoming on a Friday night.

The four of us slide into our usual booth and the bus persons know us and the waitresses greet us with “Hon” and “Sweetie.” They know I prefer vodka and my neighbors prefer gin in their martinis. The drinks will be made by a bartender, not a mixologist and there is not a hipster to be found. The floors are not concrete, there are no high ceilings and there’s no loud music playing. You will not read about the food in Jonathan Gold’s reviews in the LA Times but we like the cheese toast and salads with Green Goddess dressing.

We don’t really come here for the food. It’s more for the ability to converse with each other in a relaxed setting, venting about the week’s frustrations at work or lamenting the state of politics or waxing philosophical about the meaning of our lives. We don’t remember how long we have been doing this – we think it was after the last child went away to college about ten years ago.

Every Friday afternoon an email will be sent about martinis and a plan will be made. It has become a regular routine. It doesn’t matter that we have been doing this for ten years or that we have been friends for almost thirty years, we never run seem to run out of things to talk about and it provides a sense of consistency and stability in my life.

The point is: routines are just as important for those of us who are not brain injured.

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