Did you ever see that episode of The O.C. where Seth and Ryan travel to Florida to visit Nana Cohen? Before its teen soap turn of the pair taking center stage on an MTV-esque Spring Break Special, it starts with the duo playing shuffleboard alongside retirees. Donning Tommy Bahama tees and sandals with socks, they’re simply enjoying life, sipping on fruity mixed beverages with tiny umbrellas. It’s those first five minutes that made me want to spend my own recent week away from school in a 55+ community.
Ponce de Leon putzed around Florida looking for the Fountain of Youth more than 500 years ago. His search for the eternal sprout spring may have been in vain, but for the AARP crowd, it’s still the greatest sanctuary. Retirement communities are practically on every corner. I’m lucky enough to have a grandma that calls one in Ocala home. I decided to spend my Spring Break there this year.
Here’s what I learned from my stay:
- The 55+ crowd having been driving “eco friendly” cars for years…they’re called golf carts, and they’re awesome!
- Bingo Mondays = Free Money
- Spending a day tuned in to Turner Classic Movies feels way more productive than a Netflix binge. At least here, you’re watching the best in vintage cinema as opposed to marathoning through all 13 episodes of Orange Is the New Black for the fourth time.
- No one judges you for going to bed before 10:00 pm.
- You get to float around on pool noodles.
- There are no stick-thin biddies critiquing your bathing suit choice.
- Even if you’re not the most tech savvy person, everyone will just assume you’re an IT genius if you whip out an iPhone.
- There are a ton of second hand stores around for you to furnish your new place.
- Retired folks love their Happy Hour. Wine and cheese for all!
- Their relationship advice is nothing to baulk at. Hey, they found their significant other before the days of Tinder, so they must be doing something right.
- There’s no reason to set the alarm. Everyone’s retired, so sleep as late as you want.
- They’ve got clubs for practically every kind of crafting a girl could ask for: Quilting? Check. Watercolors? Check. Sewing? Check.
- For the athletes, there’s bocce ball, shuffleboard, and rounds of golf.
- Just like single twenty-somethings, they’ve got an empty nest.
- …which means they won’t judge you for having loads of pet pictures on your phone.