Let’s think about comparisons and contrasts. Our lives are built around them, day or night, hot or cold, happy or sad, alive or…not.

Lately I have been noticing some of the major contrasts that have happened in my life, and how some basics are always the same.

I used to dread driving Highway 152. It had so much traffic! Now, compared to having to deal with Blackstone, Herndon and the rest of the fast roads in Fresno, Highway 152 seems like a back country road. Boy I miss that!

If anyone would make a film about all the times I get lost or make the wrong turn in Fresno, he would have a comedy of errors.

I guess there are so many places to go to here that people feel they have to rush to make sure the places are still there. How you can decide which shopping center to go to is beyond me. I cannot keep track of them. It is a shopper’s paradise; if only I had the money to shop. 

I thought Los Banos was hot, but I never appreciated enough the wind that comes in to cool us down. Now I walk my dog Yogi at least five times a day. Either he is a nag (well he is sort of), or I am finally getting around to walking to get healthy (much safer than driving). Anyway, no matter what time we walk, sometimes as early as 3:30 in the morning, or 1 a.m. at night, it is always HOT.

I have had enough of hot to last me a lifetime. Oh, how I long for a Los Banos breeze. 

Here in Fresno places are busy, everywhere and it seems too early for holiday shopping. Fresno is sort of on steroids compared to Los Banos. Corner drug store? I keep looking for something like our beloved soda fountain. Nothing like it so far.

I think there is too much, too spread apart to enable places to be neighborhood hangouts. There are A LOT of Starbucks, which may be Fresno’s hangout place. 

In Los Banos I knew every street. Here in Fresno I know the way to the drug store, Save Mart, the church and the post office. And I still get lost coming home sometimes. I am hidden in this tangle of roads, so sometimes I get tied up.

I also miss so much the feeling of really knowing where I lived and a fair share of the people who lived there. I knew Los Banos, its history, its people. Here I still feel like I am on an extended visit without good travel arrangements. 

There is a lot to be said for having roots. They help to give you stability. I miss that a lot. But here in Fresno I do have the opportunity almost every day to see something new. Maybe it is like the surprise of the most enormous nursery I have ever seen, with trees and flowers as far as the eyes could see or coming across a Japanese garden. 

I do have a sense of being on a new planet that I have just begun to scratch the surface of, which can be exhilarating. But on the other hand, I am getting pretty old, so just how much scratching can I get in? 

Then there is the challenge of meeting people. There are two ways I have discovered to deal with living in a large complex where you know no one. Number one: Complain and do nothing about it or let them come to you.

Or number two: Get a cute dog with a long wagging tail and whose head tilts side to side in rapt attention when someone talks and then put him in a cute vest. Also be willing to walk that dog at least five times a day at every conceivable time.

Then, if you  see the shadow of a person, a strand of hair in the wind or the scent of someone human, shout out, “Hello!” Sometimes you have to say hello more than once, or three times. But finally, the person gets it and says hello back.

Then you say things like “Beautiful car, I see you working on it a lot”; or “Darling boy, . . . oh girl”; or “You have the cleanest garage in the Commons” (people like this, so you can use it again). 

I have had to learn to sharpen my people skills and learn to ignore rejection. But I (will learn to know some of these people if it is the last thing I do (and by going for walks at 3:30 in the morning, that may be sooner than I wish).

My gains have been slow, but I have met people, some really nice people, actually, which holds promise. 

Another big issue I have been facing in this comparison-contrast world is that of living alone. When you are used to living with someone, suddenly being alone is a big contrast.

It takes a lot more adjustment than moving from Los Banos to Fresno. So doing both at the same time is really great! Does anyone believe that? It sucks. The one magnifies the other.

I wake up each morning sure that I’m hearing noises in the other part of the house. I do. It’s my dog or cat. But no person. 

I get to watch whatever I want to on TV, but who can you talk to about the shows or disagree with? And it’s easier to be brave and go somewhere new when you have the backup of another person.

But I am learning the pride of winning each small battle by myself. I am pushing myself more because who else is there? You have to be your own cheerleader.

And I’m getting to know myself better. That is a heavy thing to do when there are few distractions. I have found I am quite interesting. Who knew? 

We would be wise to bless the comparisons and contrasts in our life. Without them, life could get quite dull. And what fun is that? 

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.