Relax…Breathe…

The highway digital sign crying “Silver Alert – Missing elderly man in gray Mercedes, License XXXX” signaled our entry into Florida. Having spent the last twenty years living in the suburbs of DC and Houston, we are accustomed to snipers, car-jacking , kidnapping and Amber alerts, murder and mayhem…missing children, but not missing seniors!

Loving the Beach!

Loving the Beach!

Whenever we relocate, we approach the adventure as if we were moving to a foreign country – new foods, new vocabulary, new customs. We followed the same process with this move to the Naples area.

We quickly adapted to the new foods: Tex Mex has been replaced by Italian and fresh seafood restaurants.

New vocabulary: “In Season” no longer means to wear white after Memorial Day, but refers to the time of year when tourists invade the Florida beaches.

New customs: Relax…breathe…relax…  Keeping up with the 80 MPH traffic on the Interstates around Houston has given me a heavy foot and an attitude. Traffic on Highway 41 (Tamiami Road) to Fort Myers is nearly as congested as it is on Beltway 8 in Houston, except that it moves at 1/3 the speed; instead of eighteen wheelers and super big pick-ups rocketing past us on the Interstate, a plodding phalanx of luxury cars block all three lanes. We are trying to learn to calm our ulcers and enjoy the pace.  After all, we are retired. We don’t HAVE to be anywhere! Relax..breathe…

All the News…

I am a print newspaper person. Yes, I have my Kindle for books, my tablet for research, my phone for email, and my computer for blog writing. But I love my paper and coffee in the morning, even though the news is 24 hours old and I’ve already read the highlights on Google.  Embarrassed though I am to confess it, my favorite part of the Daily News is the police reports!

The first one I read hooked me forever:  a motorized wheelchair had been found in downtown Naples; if not claimed in 90 days, the wheelchair would be turned over to the finder.

I pondered with another cup of coffee: did the chair take off on its own? did junior high kids joy-ride in a stolen wheel chair, and then abandon it? was the occupant of the chair suddenly raptured?  Did he appear in heaven wearing his clothes, but leaving his wheelchair behind?

After the murder and mayhem of Houston, the domestic “violence” reports here are lifted from the 50’s. A few of my favorites from the last weeks are:

  • The couple who were arrested because he scratched her neck and left a red mark after she struck him with a phone charger cord. This is violence?  Have they never heard of assault weapons?
  • A woman who attacked another with a hair dryer. That was the whole story in the paper. I want to know more! Was the dryer set at full power and on hot? Did the victim’s hair stand on end?
  • The adult who threw a soup can at the teen-age boy who had not started his chores. The boy had a bruised arm and “the soup can was taken into evidence.” With some fast thinking by the “perp,” this report could have been the gentler version of the Alfred Hitchcock episode where Mary killed her husband with a frozen leg of lamb, then roasted it and served it to the investigating officers. Why didn’t the guy have lunch before the police arrived?

And the crime stopper:

  • A man was arrested for operating a dental office out of a one-car garage. He picked up people at the local grocery store and drove them to his place of business. He quoted undercover agents $350 for a root canal, and was charged with practicing dental hygiene without a license! Where can I get a license for flossing? Target? CVS? Walgreens?

Barefoot

Lest you think I don’t like it here, let me extol the virtues: really nice people, amazing photo ops, great restaurants and beaches. Beaches and more beaches, and all within a few minutes’ drive! We often have to remind ourselves that that we don’t have to “go back” in a few days – we’re not on vacation. We actually LIVE here!

Now if we could only learn to relax…

Advertisements

It’s a Small World, but a Big Decision

My aunt once announced that Perk and I had to quit moving because she had run out of space for us in her address book. When I calculated the number of places we have lived over the course of our marriage, I realized that we averaged a move every three-four years – sometimes to a new city, sometimes to a new place in the old city. I started keeping an inventory of our worldly goods, so that we could divest ourselves of them more easily with each move. We’ve pared down considerably.

???????????????????????????????When we were moving from Minneapolis, I measured my bookshelves in the new DC condo and made tough choices; as an English teacher, I had collected books for decades. Our son carted boxes of cherished volumes to the used book store until the manager cried, “That’s enough! We can’t take any more!” My son sorrowfully choked, “But I don’t know what to do with all of these. My parents aren’t with me anymore.” Assuming that we had moved on to that great Barnes and Noble in the sky, the manager relented and took all 3,000 (yes, three THOUSAND!) books.

Where in the World?

This next relocation, however, is disconcerting because we have no parameters for our decision-making.  Being retired, we do not need to worry about the commute time to the office, the quality of the schools, or even the city we live in. We only need to think about where we want to go, and it’s a big world out there!

As a Type-A Virgo, I had to invent some boundaries for myself.  We began by thinking about what we wanted in a new location:

  • A destination place We are gregarious, accustomed to lots of house guests. Apparently our delightful presence is not enough of a draw, because NO ONE accepts our invitations to come to Houston.  As my friend Ann Flanagan said, “Once you’ve seen the zoo and the beer can house, what else is there to do?”

    Beer Can House

    Beer Can House

  • No snow We lived in Minneapolis, Chicago and sometimes snowy DC for most of our lives. I’ve learned how much more room you have in the trunk of your car when you don’t have to carry bags of sand, snow brushes and jumper cables. I rarely complain about the rain in Houston … I don’t have to shovel it!
  •  Clean beaches I love sitting in the sun and smelling the salt water, wading in the surf and feeling the sand slip from beneath my toes. I don’t want to know what could be slipping from beneath my toes on the shores of the Potomac or on the red tide beaches of Bolivar Peninsula!
  • Things to do We like street fairs and open air concerts, science museums, funky art galleries, baseball games and people-watching.  We like to be outside, dressed in casual clothes and munching goodies purchased from sidewalk vendors.

After we considered the above four bullets, we still had too many options – California, the Carolinas, a Caribbean Island?  We added criteria:

  • Affordable
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Friends to show us around

We were making progress, but decided that we needed input from the most important people in our lives.

Gulf Coast Sunset

Gulf Coast Sunset

Yes, we consulted our grandchildren. Where did they want us to live? Where would they like to visit us? I loved that their first response was “Paris”, but it’s too expensive for many visitors, snow sometimes clogs the Champs Elysees, the Seine is not for wading.  Their next choice was inevitable …

…and so we’re off to Florida. It’s a Small World after all!