The youngster in an over 55 community

by — Nov. 4, 2000 (Comments)

At this point in my life, I found that I had to downsize. I have always lived in a house, except after my divorce I lived on the Intracoastal in a small apartment. The benefits of living on the Intracoastal, never being in the apartment, outweighed apartment living. Now, I am in an over 55 community and practically the youngest one here. I am not the only one with a full time job, but among the very few.

What I don’t miss are the neighbors I had when I lived in a neighborhood. The yelling and screaming kids, the practical pranks of young boys growing up, the pettiness of young mothers against each other and the loud parties that went on all night. What I do miss is the privacy of a single-family house. There are no rules as to what you can and cannot do, who can live with you, and the decisions you make are solely your own. The lifestyle is totally different when you have a house of your own. The expenses are extraordinary though.

I miss my dog. I am in a community where I cannot have my dog, so he went to live with my friend when he moved north. That is a heart wrenching experience. I miss the love and communication between dog and living with someone. I am now alone. Although it was a choice I had to make, it was not a choice I live with easily. I have never lived alone in my entire life.

The community has all types of different kinds of people. All are friendly, nosey, caring and look at me as a youngster. That’s laughable to me, because I don’t feel young. I remember what young was. Young was dancing till 4 a.m., staying up all night and going to work the next day, albeit tired, but not unconscious, eating whatever I wanted and not gaining a pound, and having time, so much time to read, obtain more education, the world was open and doing whatever I could think of. Yes, I should do all of that now, but I am limiting myself. My body is not in the same shape; I cannot run around and stay up all night. I have to rethink what I can and cannot do and that is difficult. Change is always difficult, but to have to change my whole lifestyle because of my age isn’t something I thought I would ever encounter. I know I cannot go back, but how do I go forward?

After all these years, I am not comfortable financially and find that many of my colleagues are now retired. Retired? To be able to do nothing but write would be a dream come true, but that’s not in my future, at least not my immediate future. I do have a job in the publishing industry, however I am making one half of what I ever made before, but it’s not a 10 hour a day job either, so I guess whatever works to pay the bills and write the stories?

My neighbor is a wonderful jovial fellow. He is married to a very nice lady. He is 80 and dances in the aisles. He is an inspiration to us all. He loves to fish, does a few odd jobs, knows everything that’s going on in the neighborhood, helps those in need, has an RV where he and his wife travel off and on during the year and is generally a very nice man. He is certainly someone to strive to be like for future reference.

Next-door is a board member, moved here from the north, who has a mind of her own and will tell you what for. She is a jewel and a delight. She first welcomed me with home baked bread. She has a talent for all those crafts we all did up north on those cold snowy, can’t get out of the house, days. They are on display throughout her small place. Her husband had retired but felt he had to work at a part time job to keep busy, that’s what he was use to and needed. She had a dog too that she had to give up before she moved here. This is a hard one to take for all of us. Her son was born on my birthday, her daughter on my daughter’s birthday, her wedding anniversary is my divorce anniversary, and we have a lot of coincidences. Talking to people and finding their inner being is a treat for me.

Then there are a few who are 90. They come to the social meetings and charm us with all they have done. I can’t but wonder if they feel what I do. Why can’t we do what we once did and how do they go about accepting it? They are blissful in what they are doing, oh, they are still crafting, or doing some of what they once did, but there are no financial problems for them now. They appear happy even though there are aches and pains and they get around. People are indulgent of their stories they tell over and over and see that they go where they need to be.

Everyone is always friendly, will stop and talk, we are a family community and that is a wonderful feeling. I am not as neighborly as I would like, but I am working full time, writing as often as I can and trying to start a business. I attend and participate in 2 society meetings (writers and genealogy) and get together with a friend as often as I can. Sometimes that’s 7 a.m. breakfast on Saturday mornings. I don’t see my children or my 6 grandchildren as often as I would like, they have busy families too, but we try. I don’t remember being this busy when I was living in the north. Was it the weather that kept us inside for most of the winter (or outside scraping and sliding on the ice, but home in the evening)? I would not want that chore or crazy risk again.

I miss the house situation, but for one person, this is ideal, for now. I still have all the problems with maintenance of appliances, a/c, carpeting woes, painting and cleaning, but it’s a smaller environment, therefore, less of a financial strain, which is what I can handle right now.

I am just venting and trying to find some answers. I know this area is not academia minded. Maybe that’s gone for most people here, but I miss the challenge it gave my mind, the openness it gave my heart and the creativity of being with likeminded people.

The small community setting gives me the need for living in a small town I miss that. However, I still have to leave it to go to work, shop, and do errands. I saw on the news last night that the traffic is worse than ever and our northerners haven’t come down yet. If it gets much worse the 10-minute drive to work will turn into 45 minutes. That’s not acceptable.