Today my mom reminded me that in just a few years I’ll be old enough to own a home in her retirement community. As I get older, I admit there are some things I need to be reminded of – like where I left my keys. I may seem paranoid, but her comment seemed more like a cheap shot than a helpful reminder.
My mother (originally from Brooklyn), moved to Arizona (which currently feels like a large-scale sauna) 13 years ago to escape the cold weather. She moved into a retirement community with one of her husbands (she’s a widow of three if you count the one that died after they had the marriage annulled and a divorcee of one – I have to admit, she’s done well for herself.)
Presently, I don’t like retirement community living because the pool has restrictions on times when children can go swimming and I am here with my 9 year old daughter. I’m sure when she’s 18 and I don’t have to worry about it, I’ll be happy they have restrictions on times when children can go swimming.
From my observations and the conversations I have with my mom, living in one of these villages is akin to being in high school until you die or end up in an assisted living facility (which will hopefully be like being in a bar). Every year, she has a new best friend. Out with the old, in with the new old. This year Ginny is her bestie. When I ask her what happened to the other throw aways, she shakes her head and mentions something about either not inviting her to a party they had or cheating at mahjong.
It’s tough keeping up with the cliques in her neighborhood. I visit once a year (vowing each time to never go back) and see her friends at lunch or dinner parties I tell her not to have in my honor. “Hey, why isn’t Sue here?” I asked one year. “Oh, she turned out to be crazy.” One of her best friends she kept for more than a year dropped her to hang out with some of the cooler kids who had nicer handbags and red hats that looked better with their purple dresses.
I also get to hear her friends talk about boys. For the women who are widowed or whose husbands have Alzheimer’s, there’s a lot of talk about online dating and much too much open discussion about getting screwed (I wish they would still treat me like a child sometimes and not speak of inappropriate topics in front of me). I picture their version of getting screwed means holding hands. I don’t want to picture anything beyond that or I will throw up.
Of course, they also talk a lot about doing drugs. Most are not the fun kind but occasionally there is a Percocet or Vicodin thrown in.
So far the only thing I haven’t seen them do in high school like fashion is have fist fights -which is probably the one thing I wouldn’t mind seeing.