Active Adult, Senior Living, Over 55, Retirement Resort. Whatever you call it, sticking a bunch of old people together behind guarded security fences doesn’t seem like a recipe for fun and frivolity, does it? I beg to differ.
As my husband neared retirement he started pushing for us to get a place in an over 55 community far from Illinois’ wintery weather. “No way!” I replied, memories of my parents’ place in Lake Worth, Florida (aka God’s Waiting Room) still fresh in my mind. There the leather-skinned pool police stood unmoving in the water, glaring at those of us who dared to cause ripples in said water, and demanded to see our visitor passes. “That’s a red Resident Tag. You should have a green Visitor Tag!” they cried in righteous outrage. Bill talked me into it, though, and in the year and a half since I bought this place I discovered he was right. It seems old people have gotten a lot younger since I joined their ranks.
Although I love it here, there are some glaring differences between life in an over-55 community and the rest of the world.
- If you see someone pushing a stroller, 9 times out of 10 there is no baby on board. When you move in for the coochie-coo you risk getting your finger bit off by the occupant – one or more yappy little dogs.
- We don’t even have a golf course in our community, but lots of people still have golf carts. Some do so for mobility issues but, let’s face it; they’re just cool to zip around in. Whether running up to the club house for happy hour, or decorating for holiday golf cart parades – mulled wine, spider webs and witches hats for Halloween; fireballs, peppermint Schnapps and twinkle lights for Christmas – golf carts are the fun way to go.
- Time was many of us would dance the night away, close the place down and then go out for breakfast. We could still get up on time the next day, fresh as a daisy. Now we need to get a jump on bedtime if we want to have any chance of getting in 5-6 hours of decent sleep, what with the insomnia, night sweats and endless trips to the bathroom. All social activities here are scheduled so we are home in our jammies by 9. And we’re okay with that.
- Although I have yet to demand someone’s visitor pass, I do find myself eyeballing anyone who isn’t “our kind of people.” I don’t care about ethnicity or skin color – my squinty-eyed scrutiny is only triggered if that skin is unwrinkled. Then I start wondering if said young person is here to burgle us or, even worse, use the pool without the proper authorization!
- Pickleball, which has taken the place of shuffleboard for the active, over the hill crowd. ‘Nuff said.
- Everybody’s busy. We’re doing yoga, zumba, line dancing, water aerobics, pickle ball, bike rides, golf and going for walks. We’ve got groups for playing cards, photography, stained glass, painting, knitting and just about every hobby there is. This doesn’t even cover the concerts, dances and any other excuse you can think of to get together and drink. Before I moved here I was a slug by comparison! As we boogie into our golden years we have adopted Neil Young’s mantra: it’s better to burn out than to rust.
- Everybody’s friendly. It’s an unwritten rule that you smile and wave when you pass someone here, whether on foot, bike or car. I lived in the same town for more than 35 years, and still had a hard time finding friends to do things with, especially after my husband died and I was no longer part of a couple. Almost everyone here is from somewhere else. We left behind our lifelong support networks of siblings, friends we’ve known since 1st grade, co-workers, kids and grandkids. Without these to nurture and/or need us, we have to be open to new people or we wind up staying home alone. In an over 55 community you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a widow, so there’s a ready supply of people in the same boat as you; people who need a friend.
- Happy hour is no more. Why should one hour in the day have all the fun? Now that most of us are retired, we’re getting happy around the clock. At home “the bar” was a couple of dusty bottles of rum and gin we stuck above the refrigerator where the kids couldn’t get at them (ha!). Now I have an actual bar. I’ve got separate glassware for wine, beer, martinis and margaritas; I’m constantly on the lookout for cool accessories and have even developed a signature cocktail, the Grapefruit Sunset. I’ve never drunk so much in my life. That’s probably why we take part in all those healthy sporting activities. The exercise helps burn off the alcohol before it turns into sugar which fries the liver. I’m pretty sure that’s how the science works.
- Keeping up with the Joneses involves patio amenities. Since we all live on top of one another, and that life is lived mainly outside (at least here in Arizona) I’ve had plenty of opportunity in the last year to see how the other half lives. It made me feel ashamed. I hid behind my curtains when well-meaning neighbors with superior patio set ups dropped by with an invitation. How could I reciprocate? My rickety, rusty table and folding chairs could never provide the oasis of hospitality I longed for. Those days are gone. I remodeled the tiny backyard to include several seating areas, one by the water with a fire pit. One daughter got me a patio heater for Christmas, the other an outdoor speaker, and I invested in a substantial set of comfy, outdoor furniture. Now I can hold my head up high and host drinks and apps on the patio with pride. I don’t want to brag, but did I mention the heater is the professional kind like at restaurants, the fire pit is gas and the cushions are genuine Sunbrella?
- As we get older, our opinions harden into undisputable facts, which we are not shy about sharing. This generally isn’t a problem out in the world because younger people, like grandchildren, have been taught to listen politely and not contradict their elders. When everybody else around you is just as old, just as opinionated, and just as convinced that their way of thinking is the ONLY valid opinion, it can make for some tense conversations. Doesn’t matter if the topic is world politics or when the sprinklers should go on in the common areas. Which, of course, is the middle of the night when most of us are not in danger of getting squirted because we are at home, trying to get just a few minutes of quality sleep. As anyone with a brain will agree.
LOLOLOL! Sounds like the “pool Nazis” are everywhere. We had to warn our kids before visiting their Grandma Marilyn.
Miss Susie, how nice to see your smiling avatar! I was wondering if any of the old gang was still alive and blogging. I will be over to your place soon. 🙂
I rarely check my email’s social tab, but there you were! ❤️
Blogging isn’t what it used to be. I barely posted once a month last year and haven’t blogged in 2023. Yikes! That said, I have something up my sleeve and hope to post tomorrow or Thursday!
I’ll keep my eyes open for it 😉
Good for you, Peg. Wish you the best from Gregg and I. We go to Clearwater FL for 6 weeks in winter. Don’t think we will ever move away permanently from the kids and grandkids within a 1 to 1 3/4 hour drive away.
Thanks Sue, How nice to hear from you. I haven’t moved permanently either, just snow-birding like you. Hope you are enjoying the warm weather there.
Hello- It was a nice surprise to see this latest writing of yours in my email! We, too, have moved from the Illinois Valley to a 55+ community. But we’re still in Illinois: Shorewood. We’ve never had so many friends and like you, have never been so busy. ?? We are very happy here.
We do have a condo in Scottsdale and have 2 daughters out there but the thought of living in the hottest place in the U.S in the summers is terrifying to me. We go back and forth often, avoiding as much of the summers that we can.
Keep writing, please! You’re so funny! By the way, have you read the book “Excuse Me While I Disappear?” by Laurie Notaro? Hilarious!
To my knowledge we’ve never met, in case you’re trying to figure out who I am. Just wanted you to know I loved this latest writing because we can relate to it so much and it made us laugh. Thank you!
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Thanks for clarifying that we hadn’t met Patti. I was wracking my rapidly diminishing memory for a clue. I’m a snowbird, too. I still have my place in illinois. Like you, I find 113° in the summer a bit much. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I haven’t written in quite a while and have been missing it.
Ha! I live in London and number 7 applies here in big cities too. On the tube (subway/metro!) you don’t catch anyone’s eye or start a conversation, people will think you’re weird but the moment I drive out of London into the countryside and take a walk absolutely everyone says good morning. It is SO lovely, just like your blog 😊
I understand in big cities smiling at a stranger is an invitation to get beat up.
Thanks for stopping by, Tom.
Happy to see you have found a happy way to adjust to the changes in your life!
We’ve been Arizona snowbirds for 10 years now, in a plus 55 community, and like you say, there is no end of things to do! Also like you, Rio Verde Midnight is 10 PM at the latest and that is perfect.
Everyone waves, though that is also normal back home in rural Alberta!
It is fun here. In some parts of the country, like New York, if you smile at a stranger it is an invitation to get shot. Glad your experiences have been a bit more friendly. Thanks for visiting.
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Hi Peg. Missed you, although, like so many of us, I no longer post each day. I have several friends in such communities, some good and fun like yours, some not so good. Life changes so much as we age. I am glad you found a happy place.
How nice to see you again! I can’t believe I haven’t been on the blogosphere in so long. Now that I’ve dipped my toes back in the water I really miss it. Especially those old days when we were all writing and jumping around to each other’s blogs all the time. Hope all is great with you.
Having found you again, I decided to look back at your ramblings from those years ago when we were all active in the blogosphere. In particular, I reread and laughed again over The Great. Blizzard of 1978. I lived in Montreal for a couple of years at the end of the 60s but so many years later I have forgotten the chaos caused by snow. Thanks for the fun(?) reminder.
isn’t it funny, I did the same thing. I hadn’t been back through my old archives in a long time. Have to admit it was bittersweet. I ended up bawling my eyes out because of all the friends and family who used to comment who are gone now. Also 2 family members who have issues and can’t read anymore. Even several fellow bloggers from back in the day who I know have passed away. Kind of sad.
Comments these days are so much fewer and as you say, so many of those who used to comment are no longer with us or no longer reading our blogs. It’s all very sad but once again another aspect of grown older. I’m glad you’re enjoying your move to your retirement community. Take care. Hugs from the other side of the world
Thanks, right back at you!
Love from chilly Michigan! So glad that you are writing again. When AnnMarie and I visited last year, the workers were just working on the legendary fire pit area. Can’t wait to see it in action! Not sure when I will get down there, as AM and Will are going on a cruise and I need to see Jimbo about some crummy teeth… So glad that you found a welcoming community of Healthier-than-Thou’s! (What?? You HAVEN’T ran a half-marathon yet???!!?)