Welcome, Joan's Journeyers. I have a sad, but true, tale to tell. Recently, we've been exploring comfort zones with one's senior community and the surrounding geographic location—whether a new area or lifelong location.

My tale begins last week, as my car exited the underground parking lot of Holiday Villa East (HVE), my senior living community in urban Santa Monica, Calif. As I drove onto the alleyway, I noticed a head, neck and shoulders in the overflowing roadside dumpster. Convinced I was seeing an illusion in the sunshine, I stopped my car. Two frightened eyes stared directly at me. Then the head dove and disappeared into the commercial-sized dumpster.

Totally flustered, I was not sure what to do. Perhaps the person would suffocate. Maybe he or she was committing suicide. Was I safe driving past the dumpster? Should I call 911?

To see what happened in Joan's story, and the lesson it taught her, please visit Joan's Journey, Part 24: An Unexpected Lesson in Comfort Zones.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren.