Many of we boomers don’t want to admit we’re getting old. We sport cargo shorts and Lycra, we travel to groovy places like Guatemala and India, we huff and puff our way through spinning class and Bikram yoga (although here I confess to using the pronoun “we” loosely).
Lots of us still have kids at home, too, which allows us to maintain the illusion of youth long after our AARP cards and mirrors tell a different story. After all, if we’re still elbowing our way through back-to-school nights and dozing through middle-school band concerts, we can’t possibly be geezers yet — can we? (By the way, this particular fiction works only until some sweet young thing asks you what grade your grandchildren are in. Yes, this has happened to me — twice.)
For similar reasons, many of my peers are horrified at the notion of leaving their single-family homes. After all, downsizing to a condo or an apartment means you’re getting up there in years, and God forbid we should declare that to the world.
No, these folks would prefer to soldier on through what I’ve come to think of as the Minnesota carousel of bad yard chores: rake up moldy, grime-coated leaves, plant things to replace the stuff that died during our most recent ice age, weed, mow, repeat, rake, rake, repeat until first snowstorm, shovel, shovel, repeat until last snowstorm.
Perhaps because I am 1), married to a disabled guy and 2), constitutionally lazy, I fail to see the charm of this particular carousel (though my kids will tell you I’ve been known to push small children out of the way to ride an actual carousel).
All of which brings me to my infatuation with Oakwood Village, a cluster of spacious senior citizen apartments set amidst, yes, oak trees in my Wisconsin hometown.
Please note that the average resident of Oakwood Village was born during the Hoover administration, sports an appliqued sweater (her) or throat-grazing pants (him), and tends to retell the same stories nightly—none of which has in any way diminished my desire to move in amongst them.
Why? Because Oakwood’s attributes far outnumber its faults. To wit: The underground, heated garage! The helpful dudes who fix your faucets and hang your pictures! The indoor skyway that takes you to dinner! The dinner (and lunch and breakfast) itself — cooked, served, and cleaned up by someone other than you. The lack of a roof, eaves, siding, or other maintenance time-and-money sucks. And most gloriously of all, the lovely landscape to gaze and stroll upon, requiring not one jot of work from you. What’s not to like? Or as my husband, stretching out in my father’s easy chair, so aptly put it, “When can we move in?”
Alas, although we are certainly old enough to buy an Oakwood apartment, its management steadfastly refuses to allow in teenagers, and apparently the authorities don’t look kindly on housing your offspring in the basement storage unit.
So senior living, in all its low-maintenance splendor, will have to wait a few more years. But perhaps then, when the kids finally move into their dorms, I can move in next door to Dad. I already know all his stories anyway.
Lynette Lamb, whose 1957 birthdate puts her squarely in the middle of the Baby Boom, is a writer and editor at Macalester College.