Thursday, November 05, 2015
THE BIG SURPRISE
Never before have I lived in a community where disability was the norm rather than the exception, but that is definitely the case in our new apartment. The hallways are populated with canes and walkers and the occasional wheelchair. There are hearing aids and vision appliances and memory losses, both short and long term. Sporting our own ever-growing collection of disabilities, we fit right in. You don’t have to be disabled to live in this community, but you do have to be over 45. In our early 60’s, we are definitely at the younger limit of the population. The average age is closer to 80. When we first viewed the apartment we were not searching for company either older or disabled. We were simply looking for a centrally located large place with a decent kitchen, a reasonably accessible bathroom, a balcony you could enter with a walker and enough space to accommodate the guests we love to entertain. With these caviats in mind, we scouted the place on the Internet. It seemed worthy of the trouble it would take to get through the door for a personal peek. The things we thought we wanted are here, to be sure. But the force that brought us here can only be identified as personal magnetism. The personal stuff began on the doorstep and continued in elevator and hallway every time we came back for another look. Each person we met inquired about our presence in a friendly manner. Clearly the residents know who lives here. Each one went on to say that this building is a wonderful place to call home. We must not, we concluded, appear to be the kind of people who ought not to live here. “We have coffee every Wednesday,” they said, “and happy hour on Monday. We have movies on Thursday and a barbecue coming up. You could come to the barbecue. No need to pay for dinner. I’ll bring you a bottle of wine. Do you want red or white?” “This is a community,” they said to us, after we’d drunk the wine and purchased the key. “We do most of the maintenance and gardening ourselves. We organize the social activities. We take care of security. Most of the apartments are represented when we have a meeting. This, as you have already noticed, is a great place to live,” And if my friends are visibly surprised that I now live in a place where disability is more the norm than the exception, and age is a greater number than mine, all I can say is: Nobody is more surprised than me!