Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Compound

I’ve  discovered that some of my fellow residents in our little world refer to it as “The Compound.” It’s great shorthand and I think I’ll adopt it. Saves the trouble of trying to decide whether you want to say you live in a senior community or a retirement community (or an old folks’ community).

A century ago it wouldn’t have been a problem, because most people weren’t living to be old. Any that did probably ran out their string in a bedroom of the family domicile, now handed down to a son or daughter. That usually meant a son- or daughter-in-law as well, with all the potential friction that brought on as the oldster expropriated a grandchild’s bedroom and got a turn in the family bathroom. “Don’t be silly, Dad. It’s not an imposition.     You be quiet, Susie.”

The Compound has some 9000 residents in 17 "mutuals," groups of cooperative apartments. Apartments are 12 to a building, which is fine with me. Having grown up in rented apartments in New York tenements, I’d be uncomfortable without people on three sides of my walls making living noises.

You see some people sunk under blankets in wheelchairs, but the great majority are quite independent, and many are talented, as the annual arts and crafts fair demonstrated. There are more clubs  and activities than anyone can recite from memory, and new ones spring up when four or five enthusiasts in anything discover each other.

Income range is a reflection of the greater society: some got it, others don’t. The thing of it is, if you can afford to buy in in the first place, the living is easy. I think most people do it by selling a  single-family home and applying the proceeds. Monthly payments then are low, maintenance is taken care of, et voila! you’re retired.

A lot of us still work inconspicuously at computers or in the wood shop or at the ceramics kiln. Some of us of more authoritarian bent become security officers and get to drive around in white cars with lights that flash red on occasion. Many if not most of those occasions will be when assisting the paramedics, who are regular visitors. The county thoughtfully located a fire station literally just down the road  from us, so help is here within minutes. Sometimes even that’s too late, but the thought is comforting.

All in all, if it’s security you want -- and you find you do want help with that as your aim and gun hand become shakier -- this is the place.

Jean and I used to say “That’s for old people.We’ll never live in a place like that. Right on the first part, wrong on the last.