I’m writing dateline Annapolis. It’s our sixth day in another universe. We have already received the menu for the first two weeks of November, And, of course, a daily schedule of activities severely limited by Covid has come our way.
Our apartment is a mess, exacerbated by serious renovation that may take a month. A livable, comfortable setting, no longer distinguished by boxes, is our modest goal.
We’re just imposing our own personal stamp on our domicile, as new homeowners habitually do. Dust is flying as we continue to acclimate ourselves to a retirement community with a Bay-front view still blocked by trees with leaves hanging on for dear life.
If I allow myself a watery flashback, I could conjure up memories of a Viking river cruise, including promises of delicious food, a program director and friendly staff. A major difference is we can’t disembark and see UNESCO sites. We can, however, visit family and enjoy Annapolis.
You cannot pass go without a temperature check. You cannot host a visitor without specific permission. You cannot move around without a mask.
The residents’ handbook resembles a military operation plan. The detail is astounding. For some reason, I sense that a retired U.S. Navy officer, imbued with the Navy’s checklist mentality, wrote and edited this masterpiece of precision.
Please excuse my facetious attitude. I’ve just stepped onto a ballfield with its own peculiar set of rules aimed at providing a safe, hospitable environment for senior citizens. We no longer are masters of our fate, if that were ever the case.
BayWoods of Annapolis is not like any other apartment community. It serves a distinct age group where youthfulness is not part of its mission statement. It offers a structured residential living arrangement that caters to the needs of people who no longer feel capable of, or interested in living in a home ridden with responsibilities, not to speak of maintenance costs.
I think too that BayWoods-type retirement communities are intended to provide comfort to family members who no longer need to worry about their older parents. As one ages, it seems that roles change between parents and children. The latter gradually take control, even when not sought.
My wife asked me how this move differed from others. In the past, we moved to better and more spacious surroundings. This time, we chose a wholly different lifestyle where schooling for children and kid-friendly neighborhoods no longer matter.
By the way, I’m attending a Veterans Day ceremony tomorrow on the upper deck (sound like the Navy influence?). I look forward to paying homage to our veterans. It seems right and necessary to do.
Fellow residents are friendly and welcoming. Masked faces block a total view of our new neighbors. Sandy, our lovable Yellow Lab, continues to draw attention, as she did in Easton. She’s a people magnet.
My comments may seem presumptuous after spending less than a week in a quality retirement community but then again, I’m continuing my chronic tendency to observe, analyze and comment. I suspect my thoughts will change in time.
Most importantly, we have responded appropriately to an admonition from two Talbot County friends: “Just leave.” Perhaps we had overstayed our departure and needed a rhetorical push to cross the Chesapeake Bay.
And so we did.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.