Wednesday, September 19, 2007

House Hunting in PA - 3 and Aging...

Well, we took another quick trip to PA last weekend - I'm still recovering. One shouldn't be so exhausted from such a short trip, but there you have it. I am. We picked up Granddaughter #! from Philly U last Friday afternoon and took off for State College, PA - despite it being a Penn State football weekend. Mind you, we ALWAYS avoid major traffic snafu's whenever possible. And football traffic on two lane mountain roads is something one really should avoid, unless football fever is involved. But this was the only weekend before Thanksgiving that our daughter and son-in-law were going to both be home and available. And we did want to visit the new retirement community in Boalsburg...

We've learned that each retirement community seems to have it's own personality - which is somewhat (but not entirely) dependent upon the amenities offered. The Boalsburg site will be what is commonly known as a "resort community." That should have been our first big clue that it's not for us - we simply are not resort folks. For us, it's more about location: the proximity to family, the rural mountain scenery, the opportunities provided by Penn State which includes various forms of entertainment and the arts as well as free tuition for seniors. We do love the mountains of Pennsylvania, we lived in a mountain valley in upstate PA for 16 years prior to moving to NJ. The scenery never fails to lift my spirits and call to my heart.

But the community, which has not a single house built in it as yet, will clearly be a Penn State Alum haven. While our daughter and son-in-law are both alums of different grad programs there, and our daughter is now a full professor there, we are NOT alums. We were told by the sales counselor that we'd better become fans... which is as good as telling us to get lost! It's not that we don't like football. Not really. We're just not all that interested in it to build our lives around it, nor our free time, nor our home decor! The community will have a movie room - how fascinating - along with the pool, tennis courts, yada yada. We might actually enjoy the pool on those few hazy, hot and humid days in PA, but somehow we came away in unanimous agreement NOT to move there. Actually, some of our reasoning is financial, but not all.

So. We learned we don't want to live in a "resort" community; maybe we don't even want to be in a 55+ community... More and more, while we love some of the ranch style floorplans that are available (and not available much of anywhere else), we just cannot imaging fitting into such a place.

I wondered why I had a strong (not so positive) a reaction to a small group of seniors at one of the places we visited last month. There were six or seven folks walking - no wandering - in a loosely contained group across the street. They were a group, but not together, together, but not really together. All had gray or no hair. And I felt myself resist the image. Odd, that. I'm generally not so prejudiced about things - or maybe, more likely, I'm not so aware of my prejudices! I simply knew then and there that I couldn't live in a senior community, not now, not yet. I'm not that old, after all (yes, I really am, but I don't feel that old)! Our daughter laughed heartily at my reaction... and Frank and I recalled the many times his mom used to refer to someone in her group of friends as "old." We'd ask how old the woman was, and Mom would reply, "Oh, she's 69!" and Mom was 68... We tried not to laugh at her, but it seemed so silly, funny, and totally absurd. Well, here I am at 64 feeling much as she must have felt back then: I'm not that old, I don't feel that old so I couldn't possibly BE that old. Period. That one over there, now SHE seems old...

I now admit that age is more of an attitude than a number or an age. But something I noticed (after being shocked by my own reactions to the elderly walkers) is that nearly all of our friends are younger than us - some by as much as 20 years. Perhaps, because the peers I spend my time with are younger than I, I've not noticed that I've aged.

But, yes, I'm "old" in some ways. My body certainly thinks so on some days more than others. Different parts of my body seem older than other parts... Arthritis is taking a toll on my hands, shoulders, and knees. But does that make me "old?" I hope not. Does it restrict my activities? Yes, sad to say, my body now calls some of the shots in my life on certain days in certain circumstances. I now make some choices based upon what the choice will "cost" me in the terms of energy, stamina, and/or pain. I never used to think that way, but now it's becoming far more conscious than ever before.

So now what? Well, financially, we've decided to wait until 2009 to retire to enhance the kitty for our future. However, that could change if Frank's job becomes too stressful without enough positive fulfillment to balance it out. But we're stopping the search. We've learned a lot about ourselves, our feelings, our desires, and what we don't want and that has been worth every bit of the investment of time and energy. It also won't be wasted! We'll have that much done for when we need it.

So, it's back to the drawing board, the studio, the fabrics and paints. And maybe, in between things, researching Medicare and Medigap insurances... O what fun that will be. Ugh. But art - art and creativity are my joy. So it's off to art I go!


David Walker said...

Sometimes I think of houses as magic boxes or turtle-shell-like shelters that we carry around with us wherever we go as we wander through a lifetime. My home of 35 years has spoiled me in so many ways. For one thing, I know where everything is, and I only keep as much as I'm able to display in the open around me. I'm not a saver, and I don't like hiding beautiful things. Only really nasty neighbors would cause me to even consider moving. We are all so different. Pat, I love reading about your search for future shelter (as I have also loved hearing about Melody Johnson's experience). Living life backwards would be so exciting, wouldn’t it?--- knowing from the beginning who your real friends are, and choosing them for neighbors from the beginning as you all grow younger together.

Happy trails!


Calender Page said...

Pat, I'm intrigued by your house search because it's something I think of more and more -- also the "i'm not THAT old theme". Some of aren't that old, no matter what the birth certificate says. But I'm in Manhattan and I want to get out to somplace green, but someplace where I can have a quilting studio, not a one bedroom retirement type apartment. I guess there are a good many of us looking for the elusive place that's right for us. Good luck on your quest.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I saw your request for permission to use photos when I was posting a photo of my Mother in the Flicker group "Elderly People". I would be honored if you wanted to use the photo of her in your art work sometime. Do you need written permission or is this enough? Let me know what I need to do.
I also enjoyed your blog and your photos. The photos are very beautiful. I have never done a blog but it seems like it would be fun.
I am 65 years old myself, and I enjoyed your comments about aging. You have a delightful attitude and I'm sure that will help you remain "young", regardless of what the calendar says.
Good luck in all you do. I will "check in" from time to time.


Sister G. or Gail said...

Sorry, I didn't identify myself in my previous comment. I am known as "Sister G." in the site. Also known as "Gail".