I have just a little over three weeks until I turn 55. This is important because on that day my wife and I will be allowed to live in our condo community according to their official rules and by-laws. At the moment, however, we are underage and living here only by the grace of our landlord’s influence with the condo board. In addition to our primary lease, we had to sign a special addendum for the three months + one week period in which we are underage. We enjoyed this little fact to no end prior to coming here — after all these years we’re still too young for something. It was suggested by the condo association manager that we might even want to keep a low-profile around here until my birthday. I guess that might mean maybe not establishing eye-contact when saying hello to others, keeping my Def Leppard volume down to a dull roar, and perhaps leaving early bird coupons for restaurants conspicuously out on the front seat of our car.
In some ways this is a nostalgic feeling for me. I remember back in college (circa 1978) when our 21-year-old suite-mate would buy beer for all of us who were still underage. This was before the phrase “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was created, but that in fact was the de facto philosophy of our RA at the time. We weren’t crazy, loud partiers but rather quite earnest in our desire for long discussions and quiet debates. I think he was relieved that we had our door closed and weren’t flaunting the prohibitive behavior. Of course, the hop and malt consumption was also accompanied by smoking weed. But since every other room was also smoking weed, it was apparently the beer that was considered to be verboten back in those ironic 70’s campus dormitories. So here I am once again hiding in plain sight — for three weeks anyway.
Retiring early does make for eyebrow raising among friends, relatives, and even neighbors. Some of this I know is a reflection of their own thoughts and possible fears. To my knowledge, I am the first of my close circle of friends to retire. Except for my ex-wife, who feels that she is being impacted by this decision in a negative way (more on this in future posts), no one deigned to ask me much in the way of details about how exactly I’ve been able to pull this off. And, of course, that’s how it should be. Retirement is a personal decision. People retire for all sorts of reasons including sometimes health. I am fortunate that my own decision had nothing to do with either my health or my wife’s.
As we move about our new community here, we do recognize that we are young faces among mostly older ones. Our reason for settling in a retirement condo community had to do with my familiarity with it from an earlier investment during my first marriage, a concern that we not live around loud families with children running hither and yon, and also a desire that we find a place located in a beautiful setting which could inspire the artistic and spiritual talents that Gorgeous has in abundance. From that standpoint we have been very successful. We are surrounded by lush, tropical plants, exotic wildlife, and beautiful floral aromas — all of which we had dreamed of having in oft-cold, cloudy, and rainy Oregon.
It is my hope as I finally become “of age” in a few weeks, and we not remain so socially circumspect, that we also don’t suffer from any kind of awkward push-back from the older residents here. I’m really not expecting any — everyone seems to be very friendly and kind. But still, you never know about a community until you’re in it for a while.
Yesterday on our morning walk we encountered a couple also in their fifties. We introduced ourselves and talked to them for about ten minutes. They too are new arrivals here, having only moved in like us in the last couple of months. Unspoken but certainly felt, was a kind of validation in meeting up with them — the crystallizing “ah-ha” moment of Others Like Us also living here. I’m sure that we’ll see them again, and it’ll be interesting to get their views on some of this. I imagine they too might be a little circumspect at the moment.
So for now I’ll continue to make sure that I bring in the newly purchased Bombay Sapphire from the store safely hidden in its brown bag. I will also keep the blinds tightly closed when I do my Pete Townshend air guitar “windmill” in the living room. But in five years I bet I will care less what anyone thinks of me.