A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 4

Traffic and Language

This area has a maze of freeways and Parkways. I don’t know if it is the same in all of North Carolina but here we have an amazing network of roads, connecting with each other to go north, south, east or west. Big loops take you from one freeway on to another, and I definitely need the navigation system in my car to find my way. If I am not driving in the right direction I am urged to make a “legal U-turn”. I should have counted how many legal U-turns I have made so far!

On the road it’s surely life in the fast lane – all lanes are fast lanes, and I must anticipate whether to take, “in a quarter mile, the next exit on the right” or “keep left”, which sometimes means “go straight”.

The voice of the navigation girl is often hard to understand, and she is very late in her announcement of when to take the next turn. But I am getting used to it. In the first week we were here, three short errands within 4 miles took us three hours, even with the help of the navigator. Now, I can get somewhere in six minutes or five; it is amazing how close we are to everything, from doctors’ offices to dentists, to nail salons and hair cutters, to Costco and Kroger, not to forget Walmart, hospitals and Urgent Care. Always with the help of the voice of my navigation girl of course.

GPS devices default to a female voice. Have you ever wondered why? I checked it out. In American history, female voices have been the radio operators. It was women who gave directions to pilots in World War II. Similarly, women have conventionally taken on the role of secretaries and communicators. As a result, all GPS systems (and Siri systems, the newest technological innovation on the market) are taking on a female voice for roles that have been traditionally female. An exception is Germany, where a BMW GPS was recalled because men refused “to take orders from a woman”. Hah!

The roads, freeways and parkways are edged by tall trees and flowering trees, and bushes; everywhere you look it’s green. It’s like you are driving through a huge park and it’s absolutely beautiful. All along the freeways, nestled between and surrounded by more green bushes and trees, totally hidden from sight, are many different neighborhoods with fancy names on stone gate posts, like Chatham Forest, Windsor Place, Hatfield Commons, Weatherstone, Lochmere and so on. Names sound British, don’t they? Could that be dating back to the British colonization of the Americas, which began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, I wonder? Does any of you know that part of history to enlighten me?

Hidden as well behind the dense vegetation are the doctors’ offices, banks, shopping centers and other commercial buildings. The beautiful landscaping everywhere makes it extra difficult to find an address for someone new to the area, like me. “Your destination”, my navigator tells me with her sharp, staccato voice, “is ahead in 200 feet”, but it is nowhere in sight. She inconveniently does not say “it’s on your right or your left,” and all I see ahead in 200 feet is a red traffic light. But hidden among the green on the left and on the right are large shopping areas, and I have toured around in various shopping malls in town looking for “my destination” after making “legal U-turns” when the traffic light turned green.

The voice of my navigator may be sharp, at least most often I can understand what she is saying. I have more problems with the real “North Carolina language”. The very first time I called Waltonwood I could not understand the operator and I thought I had the wrong number. I dialed again, only to get the same voice uttering the same abracadabra. I apologized for dialing the wrong number again and hung up. When the same thing happened a third time, I said, “It’s me again. What exactly are you saying?”
“Good evening, this is Senior Living community Waltonwood. Whom can I connect you with?”
My gosh! I had the right number all along! We’ve lived here now for three months, and I still have a difficult time understanding the lady at the front desk; and there are others that are born and raised in North Carolina or other southern states that I have trouble understanding. So in the dining room you can frequently see me lean over to someone at the table to hear what they are saying, or asking them to repeat the question, yet I definitely do not need hearing aids; it just looks like I do! I fit right in!

Spots and Tattoos

Do you remember noticing that a brown spot or two suddenly appeared on your face, arm, or hand? It was many years ago that I saw my first spot. Beauty magazines called it liver spots or age spots and described them as “very common in adults older than 50”. Oh, but you could do something about them, they said. They sold cremes and serums which would make them fade and disappear. I tried a few of those in my heyday. I had unwanted sun spots that I had to do something about. Oh vanity! I tried to no avail, and in the course of time gave up.

In the course of time, by the way, all my sun spots were showing up, and to this day they are still multiplying. Born in the Dutch East Indies, where I lived until I was seventeen, I was “sun kissed” all over. In those days sunscreen did not exist, and even if it had been invented, the Japanese would have confiscated everybody’s supply. During my young adult life in the Netherlands, having a tan was “in”, and sunbathing in my free time, on the roof of my boarding house and on the beach during vacations, created a nice brown skin on most of my body. When I was a young mother there were bikini’s that let you tan through the thin material: does anyone remember wearing one of those, to get an all-over tan? I’d like to hear from you, just so I know I was not the only one sunbathing without protection in next-to-nothing on my 3′ x 9′ back porch! Well, in the course of time, all those little “sun kisses” have been showing up as little brown spots and bigger brown spots. But there is nothing to worry about since I know now why they are there.

Then came the day, now about four years ago, that I noticed a red spot on my arm, like a bruise. For that one I went to my dermatologist. “Your skin is getting thinner as you age, and you are bruising more easily,” he said. Nothing he could do about it, and neither could I. Except of course, as my husband tells me, move more slowly and carefully. Yeah, right! That’s easier said than done for a person like me. “Why,” I thought, “I am getting old!” Really? Really. But how old is old?

Well, let me tell you, living in a retirement community like ours, I am surrounded by people with spots and bruises and I definitely do not feel old any more! On faces, arms and hands, spots and bruises are in! Nobody worries about them, nobody tries to cover them. They would have to walk around in a tent if they wanted to cover them all, that’s how large they sometimes are. It looks almost like they are worn with pride, like tattoos, and all my worries are over. If you ever worried about age spots, I can highly recommend moving to a retirement community – soon!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time!


6 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 4”

  1. One of my good friends in Canada, who is also a camp survivor, warned me to watch those sun spots as they can turn into cancer.

    Yes, Walt, of course I do, and I have an annual checkup with my dermatologist. But so far, so good. And of course I don’t sit in the sun anymore, and when I’m on the beach, covered in sun screen, I like to sit underneath a palm tree 🙂

  2. Good friends in Iowa, whom I haven’t seen in a long time (and we flew right over them on our way to North Carolina), commented in an email:

    We are enjoying your tales of retirement community living. We can identify as we moved to an independent living facility about 25 miles from the farm on August 3. So things are “hitting home.” Still going to the farm every day to finish things up out there and then we will have a chance to settle into our new home.

  3. It’s so good to hear from you and remember our time on Easter Island! Glad to know that you have moved, like we did: it’s the right thing to do at our age 🙂

  4. When we were living in Florida, we made a few trips to the Carolinas and I remember how beautiful and green they were.

    We met a couple in Florida who had grown up in North Carolina. When we heard there names, we thought the man was calling his wife “Maudie.” After calling her Maudie a couple of times, we were corrected. Her name was Marty.

    Regarding age spots: Maybe at our age, we can say we’ve earned them.

  5. A friend from Prescott, Az wrote me:

    Thank you for taking us to a different world. Having just returned from the Lake District in England, I was dreading coming home to sun-baked hills. Imagine my surprise when within two weeks I was absent, the monsoons had arrived big time, and the hills were green. My neighbors had tended my plants so well that they looked better than when I had left.
    I was a little girl, probably around 11, vacationing with my uncle’s and my family. We were sitting at the side of a lake when my family practice Uncle Ed said he was wearing long sleeves because he’d noted sun-damage to his patients who’d not covered up. I believe he was wearing a hat! I was amused later to see how wise and ahead-of-the medical times he was!


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