“I’m pretty comfortable with getting old because it’s better than the other option, which is being dead.” -George Clooney
I will be 50 in December. I’ve never been afraid of growing old, because I lost people I really love way too early in life, so Clooney’s quote hits home, but I’m conflicted about this birthday. For one thing, I made it this far without getting hit by a bus or choked by an angry reader, so I got that to myself, which is good. On the other hand, AARP is already sending me The Girlfriend, and the other day someone who wasn’t alive when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry called me ma’am, so it is a mixed bag.
There’s one thing that’s unmistakable about turning 50: I can join the Adventure Club.
Former Mayor Mike Yakes used to speak poetically of the Gulfport Senior Center and call Gulfport a “community for life,” but that meant little; I want never go to a center for the elderly. I remember the one in Clearwater when I was young; its members sold placemats at the annual craft sale. I’m not really the doily type, so no, thank you.
Something happened, though, because even though I cringe at the thought of belonging to anything with “senior” in its name, I’m excited to join the Gulfport Senior Center. Rachel Cataldo, Center force majeure, told me that people age differently in today’s world and that today’s senior centers are cows of a different color. Namely, the Center Adventure Club. They went parasailing last week, and they have planned an indoor skydiving trip and a helicopter ride (already sold out).
We sent Abby Baker on their parasailing trip last week. She came back and announced that she wanted them all to be her grandparents (OK, that didn’t make me feel younger, but I appreciate the feeling) because they were so fun.
It’s definitely not my (grand)father’s center for the elderly.
In addition, the new Center will look – again, in Abby’s words – like a ski lodge. I’d prefer an island resort, but either way, it’s less like a place people go to crochet doilies (though I’m knitting a dog sweater) and more like a place for your kayaking encounter. It’s like going back to college for Gen X.
I wish they would remove the “senior” from the name though. After all, I’m not old. In my head, I’m 25, and age is a state of mind, right?
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