A few years ago, I lived for a short time in a gated modular home community for older adults. It wasn’t a good experience — I was renting a room in the house along with a fellow who spoke not a word of English and had mental problems of an undisclosed nature. Even worse, a key was necessary to leave the park on foot, and since the owners didn’t see fit to give me a key to the gate, I felt trapped. Worst of all, there was a high school outside the gates, which made me feel as if I were living in some sort of apocalyptic science fiction story where people were forcibly segregated by age.
I didn’t live there long — just a few months. Then the park manager evicted me. Apparently, although I was there to house sit, I couldn’t live in the house without the owners being present. (I don’t think the manager understood the concept of house sitting.)
That whole experience creeped me out. I can still see that place — the old folks walking around inside the walls, the teenagers milling around outside. It’s not something I ever wanted for myself, and luckily, I didn’t end up in such a situation. Many of my new neighbors seem to be around my age, but there are a few younger folks with children.
One neighbor (who happens to be the son-in-law of the people I bought the house from) planted my mailbox for me. Most people in town have their mail delivered to their door, but there are now separate rules for newcomers, and though this guy is a friend of the postmaster and tried to get me a dispensation, the postmaster stuck to the rule. So my pretty new mailbox is sitting out on the curb without any of its ilk to keep it company.
Another neighbor is a lovely young woman who wanted a job, so I’ve been letting her take care of my weeds that for now form what is laughingly called a lawn. Generation-gap relationships offer new challenges for me. The girl told me she thought my house was cute and that she liked the woman who’d moved into it. I gave her a spontaneous hug, and then later realized I probably shouldn’t have since kids today are being taught not to let anyone touch them without permission.
The next time I saw her, I apologized. She said she was glad for the hug, that it had made her day, but still, the incident reminded me to be careful.
Most of my socializing (to the extent I do any socializing) is among women about my own age, but still, it’s nice to be in a place where generations aren’t segregated.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.