Family doesn't let family move to The Villages. That’s my statement and I’m stickin’ to it. There may be some backlash over this post, but I’m ready for it.
Because moving to The Villages in central Florida is where I draw the line. Years back my mom, Dorothy, phoned to tell me she heard great things about a stunning development near Orlando.
Mom: “The homes are gorgeous. They have so many activities. I’ll never be alone or bored. It’s really a dream-like environment.”
Me: “Okay, Mom, let me come down to Florida and we’ll visit together.”
I brought my daughter, who was about 13 years old at the time, and we popped in to join Mom who was living in central Florida.
We made the 2 hour (HOT) drive towards Orlando and then turned west to land at The Villages. The three of us checked in and were escorted to a small air-conditioned van, outfitted with a knowledgeable driver. This was going to be fun.
We drove into the gated community and were immediately outnumbered by golf carts whizzing past us. Sun visors and white shorts were omnipresent. Cars were out of sight, as our tour guide informed us that automobiles are largely unnecessary:
“We folks just zip around on our golf carts and spend our days hitting the links.” The guide looked directly at us and said: “By the end of this tour, you’ll wish you were already at retirement age so you could join our wonderful community.”
We responded with a blank stare. My daughter and I looked at one other. She was lucky. At 13 she had a long way to go. Me, not so much.
And So We Continued...
Our first stop was at the activity center. We peeked in at a workout class. There were about a dozen women in pastel-colored attire, dutifully following the instructions of their aerobics instructor.
And it was all performed in silence. No music. No heavy breathing noises. We didn’t even hear the trainer calling out the next moves, yet the women were exercising in synchronicity. Eerie.
I never watched the entire Stepford Wives movie, but I was pretty sure this was a good glimpse.
Our circuit continued throughout The Villages where we visited a number of model homes for purchase. I have to admit, they had all the fancy gadgets and custom looks available for kitchen and bath.
Yet it all seemed so bureaucratic.
“What if my Mom wants to paint her house purple? Or hold a garage sale?” I asked the host. "Also, are there any single men in this community?"
At this point Mom spit out her courtesy water, graciously supplied by The Villages with its signature logo bottle.
“Egads!” was the affronted reply. “The Villages has a specific color palette for selection – you choose one of the three. Plus, there are no garage sales. Our residents leave their furniture to their kids up north and buy from the company store once they move in.”
Well, these statements just made my day. It seemed as though no one here had heard of the pitfalls of a utopian society.
And, at this point, I don’t think I have to go on that we convinced Mom to continue her home search elsewhere. The Villages is a lovely place for some, with beautiful homes and manicured landscapes. There is shopping available and a variety of dining options. The staff did their best to entice us, but it just wasn’t the right fit for Mom.
Mom has always been rebellious, iconoclastic and ready to speak her mind. In the '60s, she dissented from her upbringing and married my Dad – a (gasp) non-Catholic. Mom marched for women’s rights in the ‘70s. She scolded neighborhood bullies and sent them running back home. She stood on scaffolding and wallpapered our 2-story foyer herself. Mom taught me to drive a stick-shift and how to bake a cake. And she’s held her own against Florida hurricanes.
Thus, we thanked our guide and promptly drove ourselves straight back home.
You see, Mom always struggled with following the rules.
And we aim to keep her that way.
Thank you for reading.
H. Van Howe – PIZZA FOR BREAKFAST